By Anna Malczyk

Anna Malczyk Most sectional title schemes will deal with employment contracts in one way or another. Employers and employees alike need to read and understand them to ensure good working conditions and justifiable expectations. When drafting a contract like this, it is very useful to have paralegal skills, which will help you to understand, amend and explain the terms of the contract. An employment contract should be a mutually agreed-upon document that clearly and simply explains the conditions of employment. This article does not take the managing agent contract into account.

Here are six tips for writing an effective employment contract.

1. Keep it short and simple
Although an employment contract is a legal document, it should be spelled out in the simplest and clearest terms possible. Keep it to as few pages as possible, use normal everyday language and explain any confusing words or clauses if you’re asked to do so.

2. Be reasonable
In every aspect of the process – drafting the document, presenting it to the potential employee and negotiating changes to the terms – always try to be as reasonable and straightforward as you can. Take legitimate concerns into account and write up fair provisions in line with reasonable expectations. An employment contract is not a black-and-white document, so use your common sense when drafting and interpreting the clauses.

3. Give the employee time to read
Once you’ve presented the employee with the contract, give them enough time to read it in private, to absorb the content and take the time to think about the implications. This can vary from a few minutes to a few days, depending on the complexity of the document and the employee’s preference, but it’s vital to give the employee the space they need to explore the document in private. This will prevent them from feeling coerced or rushing through the process.

UCT Paralegal Practitioner course4. Include the necessary clauses
An employment contract needs to contain several elements to constitute a valid and binding legal agreement. These include the name of the prospective employee, the date on which the employment begins, the wage or rate of pay, ordinary working hours and several. If these are not included, the contract is invalid, which could cause serious problems later on.

5. Detail practical elements
Make sure that your employment contract details practical elements that relate to work-relevant matters. Will you provide parking? Does the employee need their own vehicle, computer, cellphone or other work equipment? Make sure the employee doesn’t run into any unexpected costs and that you indicate who is responsible for all of the reasonably expected expenses of starting the job.

6. Update the contract regularly

An employment contract is not a once-off document, to be signed and forgotten. Ideally, the employment contract should be updated whenever an employee’s job description changes in a significant way. In that case, the contract should be rewritten, taking the new responsibilities and allowances into account. The same process of reasonableness and simplicity should be followed.

Article reference: Paddocks Press: Volume 6, Issue 8, Page 3

Anna Malczyk is one of the academic officers for both Paddocks and our sister company GetSmarter. A course which our sister company presents which may interest you is the University of Cape Town Paralegal Practitioner course. Next course starts, 17 October. Quote “Paddocks Press” as the promotional code when registering and save R500.

This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution license