Wow! You applied and got that job! You’re over the moon and ready to start. But wait. There’s one more important next step before you seal the deal.

Reading through your job description and employment contract is essential. You need to know exactly what you’re agreeing to do!

Here are some things you need to be clear about before you sign on the dotted line:

1. Job description and title

It’s really important that your job title and job description match the role and duties you applied for. You don’t want to find yourself doing things you can’t do and that your workload is much heavier than you thought.

The job description is a list that clearly tells you what tasks you need to do, what your responsibilities are and the standard that you need to meet for your manager to be happy with what you’re doing.

Beginning a new job can be quite scary but don’t be afraid to ask questions about anything that you are unclear about. Do it now!

2. Salary

This is obviously important! Do make sure that the amount on the contract is the same as the one you were told at the interview. If money wasn’t mentioned in the interview – well, you have to know what you’re working for!

Does your organisation offer you any benefits like a 13th cheque, pension, medical aid? This section will tell you all about this.

Note: Your contract will state your GROSS salary. There may be deductions for pension, UIF etc. so the amount you get in your bank account will be your NET salary (once all the deductions have been taken off). Ask for a regular pay slip so that you can see what the deductions are.

3. The day you start and your notice period

Already know the day you will start? But do you know what your notice period is if you want to leave? It is often a month but it could be a week or three months. Find this out in your contract.

You really want to give your employer the proper notice period before you leave. This way you’ll get a good reference and your next employer will know that you are reliable and responsible and will want to hire you.

Are you on a short term contract? Then the end date stated in your contract is important. You need to apply for new positions a couple of months before this date.

4. Holidays and sick leave

You need to know how many days of holiday you’ll be entitled to. It’s usually 15 days but it could be different depending on the work you’re doing. Can you take your leave at any time of the year or must you take it when your organisation is closed?

What about sick leave? How much can you take? Read your contract.

What if someone in your family needs you? Or you need to go to a funeral. How many family compensation days do you get? The norm is usually 3 days a year but check what your contract says.

5. Working hours

Does your job have standard working hours? Everyone starts at 8h30 and ends at 16h30? Are you expected to work over time? If you are, how will you be compensated for that?

All of this information will be in your contract. Make sure you know the answers to all of this so that nothing is a surprise to you. Ask questions if you’re not sure about anything.

6. Probation period and causes for termination of your contract

It’s normal when getting a new job to have to work several months on probation. This means the organisation is trying you out and seeing if you can do what you said you could do! If they’re not happy with you they can end your contract immediately. Make sure you’re never late in the mornings and don’t be absent unless it’s life and death!

Your contract can also be ended for various reasons outlined in your contract such as: being absent without leave, arriving to work intoxicated, arriving late regularly, poor performance, theft and many others. Most organisations are reasonable but there’re certain things you definitely can’t do if you want to remain employed.

Remember that it’s really important that you read your job description and your employment contract so that you know all the terms and conditions of your work. It’s a good time to ask questions about anything that isn’t clear and to renegotiate it if you need to.