Why have I been given a draft employment agreement for my new job?

Before you start work with a new employer, that employer must:

  • Give you the intended agreement for your job;
  • Give you a reasonable opportunity to seek independent advice about it;
  • Respond to any issues you raise about it;
  • Document and agree on your terms of employment.
What do I do with the agreement?

You can (and usually should) have a lawyer check the agreement for you.

The lawyer will ensure the agreement contains all the matters required by law, and can advise you on other important clauses, or matters that are perhaps not in the agreement.

The lawyer can also advise you about pre-employment disclosure (e.g. of medical conditions or criminal convictions), reference checking, preemployment medicals etc.

You can then ask your prospective employer about the agreement, or sign it if you are happy with it.

What must the agreement contain?

The Employment Relations and Holidays Acts list what must be covered in an employment agreement, including:

  • Names of the parties;
  • Description of duties, hours of work;
  • Remuneration for the work;
  • Location of work;
  • If there is to be a no fault trial provision or probation period;
  • If the employment is for a fixed term;
  • Time and a half for work on a public holiday;
  • If work on a public holiday will be required;
  • Employee protection clause;
  • References to services available to resolve employment relationship problems and the 90 day period for raising a personal grievance.
How long is “reasonable” for me to get advice?

The legislation does not answer this. We would be happy to provide advice urgently, to ensure that you can respond quickly to the offer of employment, and one of our lawyers would usually be able to discuss the offer with you within a day or two of you receiving it.

What else might the lawyer tell me about?

This depends on the type of employment and the job. Topics that are frequently covered are:

  • If the job offer is conditional or unconditional;
  • If the work is part-time, temporary or casual;
  • Shift work /flexible hours;
  • On-call, overtime and allowances;
  • Training;
  • Relocation/transfer expenses;
  • Ability to transfer to another location;
  • Travel and reimbursement of expenses;
  • Use of company car or reimbursement for use of private motor vehicle;
  • Pay and performance reviews;
  • Bonus and incentive schemes;
  • Notice period for termination;
  • No fault termination;
  • Redundancy provisions (including redundancy pay);
  • When the employer can request a medical examination;
  • Confidentiality obligations;
  • If there is a restraint of trade and what it means;
  • Implications of non-solicitation and non-dealing clauses;
  • Policies – eg. for Internet use;
  • Conflicts of interest;
  • Restrictions on outside work that can be done while an employee;
  • Availability provisions and payment for them;
  • Parental leave;
  • Study leave;
  • Leave without pay;
  • Leave entitlements – annual holidays, pay as you go holiday pay, sick leave, bereavement leave;
  • Closedown periods;
  • Suspension and disciplinary processes.

What Bartlett Law can do for you:

We are specialists in workplace law. We can assist you to understand the terms of the employment you have been offered so you are well informed before you sign up to a new job. Our services include:

    • Checking employment agreements for legislative compliance
    • Advising on terms in employment agreements
    • Advising on pre-employment disclosure obligations
    • Drafting/checking employment agreements and policies

We also provide advice on contracts for independent contractors, including:

    • Checking/drafting contracts
    • Advice about restraint provisions
    • Advice about intellectual property ownership

Contact us for more information.