C&A Friedlander Attorneys

Protecting Both Employers and Employees

In the dynamic world of employment, having a solid employment contract is akin to laying a strong foundation for a skyscraper. It’s the blueprint that ensures a harmonious working relationship, defines rights and obligations, and safeguards against potential pitfalls. Whether you’re an employer or an employee, pay attention – this article is your compass through the labyrinth of employment contracts.

The Key Aspects of an Employment Contract

  1. Job Description and Duties

The heart of any employment contract lies in the job description. Employers must clearly outline the roles, responsibilities, and expectations for the employee. A vague job description can lead to confusion and disputes down the line.

  1. Remuneration and Benefits

Money matters! Specify the salary, bonuses, and any other perks. Don’t forget to mention leave entitlements, medical aid, and retirement benefits. Clarity here prevents salary squabbles and ensures everyone’s on the same page.

  1. Termination Clauses

What happens if the employment relationship sours? Termination clauses define notice periods, severance pay, and grounds for dismissal. Employees need to know their rights, and employers need protection against sudden departures.

  1. Confidentiality and Non-Compete Agreements

Intellectual property and trade secrets are the crown jewels of any business. These clauses prevent employees from sharing sensitive information or joining rival companies immediately after leaving.

  1. Restraint of Trade

Speaking of rivals, restraint of trade clauses restrict employees from competing with their former employer for a specified period. Courts weigh these clauses carefully, so tread wisely.

Some Additional Clauses

In addition to the key aspects of an employment contract, there are several additional clauses that can further safeguard both employers and employees. These include:

  1. Return of Assets and Records: This clause ensures that upon termination of employment, all company assets and records in the employee’s possession are returned. This protects the company’s intellectual property and confidential information.
  2. Right of Search, Medical Testing, and Polygraph Testing: While respecting the individual’s rights, this clause allows the employer to conduct searches or tests when necessary, ensuring a safe and secure workplace.
  3. Use of Social Media: Although social media platforms are personal spaces, employees must be mindful that their online behaviour can impact their professional life. This clause states that inappropriate use of social media can lead to disciplinary action.

However, instead of incorporating these clauses into the employment contract, they can also be established as separate employment policies that employees must adhere to. This approach offers flexibility, as policies can be updated or revised as needed without altering the employment contract.

Workplace policies benefit both employers and employees. For employers, they provide a framework for fair and consistent decision making and behaviour. For employees, clear policies help them understand what is expected of them and what they can expect from their employer. This clarity can contribute to a harmonious and productive work environment.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) is our guiding star. It sets minimum standards for employment contracts, including working hours, leave, and termination. Employers may not have provisions in a contract of employment less favourable than the minimum standards. It is important for employers to know what the minimum standards are!

A well-drafted employment contract is a necessity for both employers and employees. Employees gain clarity, and employers mitigate risks. If you need assistance in reviewing your employment contracts, incorporating additional clauses, or drafting policies that align with these clauses, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our team of experienced employment law specialists can provide valuable insights into your contracts, identify potential vulnerabilities, and suggest necessary amendments. Whether you are an employer seeking to protect your business or an employee wanting to safeguard your rights, we are here to help. Remember, a good employment contract is the foundation of a successful employment relationship. Let us help you build that foundation.

Written by Robyn Jacobs

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE).