Employment Contract Info.

Many software designers agree to unfavourable terms in the employment contracts because they're afraid of losing the job if they question clauses in the contract. By accepting the terms, they lose control over their developments. Apart from this, some of the clauses also bind the worker to long hours that cut into private time or projects. If you fall in the category of design or intellectual property development, then use these guidelines when you sign the work agreement.

Clauses in the contract
Most people are so excited when they hear that they've been hired and since they don't want to create a bad impression, sign the employment contract without attesting unfavorable clauses. Many persons realize that those clauses will have a negative impact on their time or work, but sign nevertheless. Others are unsure of the legal terms and don't want to look uninformed so they don't ask for explanations. The above reactions can cost the employee a lot. It is for this reason that the employee should read, understand, and contest any discrepancies in the contract before signing.

If a clause looks unreasonable or incompatible to you, approach the human recourses officer for clarification. Motivate the reason for wanting to alter the clause. If the contract doesn't provide you with any protection, you should request a more acceptable contract.

The danger of innovation clauses
The innovation clause is the most risky clause in the employment contract for designers. The clause protects the company by stipulating that the employee assigns all rights of his innovations to the employer. It is not an unfair clause since the company pays for the time and facilities to develop the idea or software program, but it becomes unfair if the employment contract stipulates that any software or developments by the employee becomes company property. If it includes projects outside working hours, it means that the company has ownership even over projects that are not related to their activities. Don't sign the contract if the innovation clause is too broad.

Contracts with innovation clauses should have space for exclusion of completed projects or projects already in the development process. List all the work that you want excluded from the contract.

Additional work clauses
Most employers are against additional work taken by the employee outside company hours because the employee can only handle a limited amount of working hours, before getting burned out. It means that the employee will be less effective during normal work hours. The only way to get pass these type of clauses, is to stipulate that you are entitled to taking on projects after hours with permission of your manager. Unless you already have an extra job, you should consider leaving the clause as is.

Defining the employment contract
The employment contract regulates the work relationship between the employer and employee. It stipulates the remuneration for work done by the employee. An agreement is signed after the work offer is accepted. The employer and employee both have rights and expectations that are stipulated in the contract. It is enforceable by law.

A contract is legally binding even if it is a verbal agreement. It is however safer to get a written employment contract. The minimum information that must be included in the statement or contract is:

  • Name of company
  • Full names of the employee
  • A proper work description
  • The commencement of employment date
  • Work address
  • Remuneration
  • Minimum and maximum working hours
  • Leave arrangements and stipulations regarding work on public holidays
  • Sick leave stipulations
  • Pension regulations
  • Minimum notice time
  • Procedures for complaints
  • Disciplinary procedures
  • Collective bargaining procedures

Indirect terms of the employment contract
The above terms and regulations are direct terms. Indirect terms refer to terms not stipulated, but are indirectly referred to by signing the agreement. All contracts contain the following terms regardless of stipulation in the contract:

  • Preserving trust and confidence through collaboration
  • Trust in terms of work and payment to be done
  • Ensuring a safe employment place

When no direct regulations are stipulated, indirect conditions can form part of the agreement:

  • Through the behaviour of the employer and employee
  • Through routines and actions
  • Through the corporate rules if the worker is informed of their existence

Rights of the employee
Employees have certain rights even. These rights are enforceable by law:

  • The right of fair treatment regardless of age, race, religion, gender, disabilities, or sexual preferences
  • The right to equal treatment, also with regard to wages
  • The right no be dismissed without proper cause and the correct procedures
  • The right not to get fired for giving birth to a child
  • Employees also have the right to a proper written notice time for termination of their work agreement in relation to the period employed
  • Employees have the right for compensation when they are retrenched
  • Safe workplace

The above information is only a guideline to what you as an employee is entitled to, even if it is not stipulated in the employment contract. Labor laws and basic conditions of employment differ from country to country. In general though, you can use the above terms and regulations as guidelines to what a good employment contract should include.