The employment contract is an important agreement both for the employer and employee: it confirms the duties, responsibilities and procedures that both parties agree to undertake in their work together. While the contract may be verbal in terms of common law, the BCEA requires that certain particulars of employment are captured in writing. To make sure that both parties are adequately protected, and agree, there are some essential elements that the BCEA requires be included in any employment contract.
• 1. The job title and description. These must be clear and precise; the employee’s duties must be outlined in specific terms either in the contract or in a separate document attached to the contract. This will ensure both employee and employer are clear about the employee’s job role. The contract should also include a “flexibility” clause that states that the employee will perform other duties from time to time, as reasonably required by the employer.
• 2. Starting date. This date must be the first day of the employee’s employment, and is used to calculate the length of service to the employer.
• 3. Remuneration. This section includes various types of monetary compensation as well as payment in kind (for example food or accommodation). It should include the rate of pay or salary and allowances. It should also specify the method and pay period or date that this payment is made to the employee.
• 4. Hours of work. This section should detail how many hours per day, week or month the employee is required to work. It should also specify when meal and rest breaks must be taken, as well as expected overtime and shift arrangements where applicable.
• 5. Annual leave. This section specifies how many paid days of leave per year the employee is entitled to, including any special leave arrangements such as mandatory leave over a certain part of the year. It should also state whether, and how much, leave can be carried over to the next year where the leave entitlement is more than three weeks, which is the minimum leave requirements of the BCEA.
• 6. Sick leave. This should detail how much paid sick leave is allowed over a leave cycle, and what proof of illness is required.
• 7. Notice. This section should include information about the length of notice that the employee and employer must give when terminating the contract of employment.
• 8. Signature and date. The employee and an authorised representative of the employer must sign and date the employment contract.
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Do you know of any other important points of an employment contract?