Most newly graduates are happy to get their first job but what they do not know is that your signature on any contract you sign is binding. After signing, your employer to some extent is not obligated to do beyond what is stated there and you are also bound by the rules, regulations and expectations of its content.
Most times, you will be asked to go home with the letter so that you can digest the content to see if it is something you are interested in and if you are satisfied with the remuneration, benefits, plans and other things. The first red flag for any suspicious contract or appointment letter is when you are asked to sign immediately without the benefit to read it contents properly.
So when next you are signing an appointment letter, the following are the contents you should look out for:
1. Offer of employment
There must be a formal letter written in your name from the CEO, MD or as required by the organization and signed accordingly.
2. Duties and Responsibilities
Your duties and responsibilities must be duly spelt out. Have you seen where people are employed as an accountant and you end up washing cars? That is what happens when your duties are not specified.
3. Hours of work
Resumption time and closing time must be specified.
4. Probation period
There must be an express explanation of how it works. How many months, days, weeks or years you are expected to be on probation before you are confirmed. If the company is hiring you without putting you on probation then it is possible this may not be found on your letter. At this point, you may have to ask your team leader.
5. Contract termination
The organization reserves the right to terminate your appointment and you also reserve the right to do same. Standard practice requires you to give a 30 days notice and it requires your employer to give a 30 days notice in the event they want to lay you off.
This must be explained in the letter.
a. The procedure.
b. The benefits.
c. The claims amongst others.
Your salary must be clearly stated without ambiguity and complexity. It must be clear and written in figures and words.
This comprises of;
a. Annual leave.
b. Casual leave.
c. Sick leave and they must all be clarified and specified.
d. Sometimes paternity and maternity leave.
You can read here Employee Rights, Entitlement Under Labor Laws:
9. Employee obligations
Some letters may not have this and some may have them.
This section will talk about secrecy, your responsibility to keep information safe and the need for you to be aware that whatever you do, use, write, create etc while on duty is companies property.
8. References affirmation
This will lay a claim on the fact that all the information given were right and not false.
This list is not universal and what is used in company A might be different in company B as well as in different nations but generally, the above will guide you before you sign that new appointment letter.
If nothing is clear, kindly ask your manager, your HR person or your team leader.