Before you sign your employment contract, you should take a look at our sample employment contract. It is important, for example, that the regulations for starting work, the activity and the length of vacation are precisely defined in the employment contract. There are also frequent uncertainties about the length of the probationary period and notice periods. This is what an employment contract should look like.
The employment contract regulates the general conditions of your work. It is the basis of your collaboration. The employment contract is binding and important – for both the employee and the employer. On the one hand, the employment contract results in the employee’s duty to work. You have to perform the work specified in the employment contract. You must obey the instructions resulting from the employer’s right to direct, observe confidentiality, consideration, protection and health and safety obligations. If you fail to meet your obligations, the employer can warn you and, if you repeat it, even give you notice. Often a non-competition clause is also stipulated in the employment contract, which forbids the employee to switch directly to the competition after leaving the company. For this, they are entitled to compensation. The employment contract also creates obligations for the employer. Most importantly, he has to pay you as agreed.
Typically, your employer will send the contract to your home for viewing before signing. This gives you enough time to check everything. It can make sense to use an expert or a lawyer. But it costs money. Alternatively, go through the employment contract yourself and at least compare it with our sample employment contract (see below). You should check (or have checked) passages that seem strange to you and bring them up. You are also welcome to use our sample employment contract as a template (note: we are not lawyers and therefore do not accept any liability for the accuracy of the information). Here are 3 tips for dealing with your employment contract:
Employers and employees are the contractual partners of the employment contract. The correct company name and your full name are an integral part of the employment contract. This seemingly insignificant detail can become important when it comes to resigning or changing your employer – for example, because he is setting up a subsidiary.
Start of employment
The employment contract must precisely specify the time when work begins. This means a specific date. It is not enough – as in the application, for example – from the earliest possible time to speak. So before you sign your contract, look carefully to see whether the date is really correct. This is also relevant for your vacation entitlement, unemployment benefits and social benefits. In the case of fixed-term contracts, the employment contract must also include the end of the employment relationship. A time limit of up to two years is permitted without giving reasons. After that, you may only continue to be employed on a temporary basis if there is a valid material reason for this. Example: You receive a temporary contract as a substitute for a colleague on parental leave.
The trial period varies from company to company at different lengths. Up to six months are permitted by law, and sometimes the trial period is only three months. During the probationary period, the employer and employee can terminate the employment relationship without giving reasons with a notice period of two weeks. For employees, this means the shorter the probationary period, the more advantageous. If there is no provision for a probationary period in your employment contract, the employment relationship will be concluded without a probationary period. After the probationary period, the employment contract automatically expires. Neither a new employment contract nor a revision is necessary.
What activity should the employee perform? The tasks must be fixed in a contract – just like the position that the employee will hold. Often the details of the tasks in the employment contract are only very vague. Companies want flexible employees, which is why the job description is in the employment contract usually not very specific. Because: The more precisely your job title and activity are described in the employment contract, the easier it is for you to reject activities that do not correspond to your qualifications. In addition, you do not have to accept without further ado if the employer wants to assign you to a lower-paying job. You also have to negotiate with your employer if you don’t want them to deploy you to other locations in other cities or even countries. A transfer clause is often a point of contention in the employment contract.
Working hours are an integral part of the employment contract. The 40-hour week is still common. That is the equivalent of five working days per week with eight working hours each. Depending on the industry and company, there are a number of deviations. Not to mention the many (unpaid) overtime hours. Clauses on overtime in the employment contract are often ineffective. Be sure to have it checked.
The salary can be based on the applicant’s negotiating skills – or on the applicable collective agreement. Take a close look to see whether the remuneration was correctly recorded in the employment contract. You negotiated EUR 2,700 gross, but the contract only states EUR 2,650? Then you should consult the HR department quickly. In any case, your employer is bound by the minimum wage. Since January 1, 2020, this has been EUR 9.35 gross per hour. All employees over the age of 18 are entitled to the minimum wage. There are exceptions for schoolchildren and students and if there are different collective agreements. In the employment contract, the salary is usually stated as the gross monthly salary. It also says when the salary is paid, for example on the 15th or 1st of a month. Special payments and bonus payments such as Christmas bonuses or bonus payments are also part of the employment contract. Talk to your employer about this, unless your contract says anything about it.
According to the Federal Vacation Act, the legal minimum entitlement to vacation is with a five-day week 20 vacation days, with a six-day week 24 vacation days – each after a waiting period of six months. This also applies to part-time employees. The minimum requirement is always based on the working days, not the working hours per day. Part-time employees who work less than five days a week must calculate their vacation entitlement proportionally. Many employers go beyond the legal minimum and grant around 26, 28 or 30 days of vacation per year. The number of your vacation days is a matter of negotiation. It can be worthwhile to start at this point when negotiating the contract.
In the event of illness, the employee must inform the employer immediately. The regulations on when a medical certificate must be submitted are not always uniform. Many employers contractually stipulate that employees must submit an official sick note no later than the third day of illness. But you can also ask for it on the first day.
The employer is not allowed to issue a blanket ban. He must then contractually allow you a part-time job if this does not interfere with your work or if the employer has a legitimate interest in preventing you from taking the part-time job. Obviously, this is the case when you want to work for a competitor. An employee is not allowed to start a part-time job just like that, provided that the contract states that he must register it beforehand.
In addition to the beginning and content of the employment relationship, the employment contract also regulates its end. The notice period is of particular importance here. The legal regulation stipulates that an employee can give notice of four weeks’ notice – regardless of his length of employment. The employer, on the other hand, must consider the length of service of his employee if he wants to terminate him. The longer an employee is employed in the company, the longer this notice period. The employer can now contractually align both notice periods. Then a long-standing employee could no longer quit within four weeks. The contractually fixed notice periods must, of course, always apply equally to both sides – preferential treatment of the employer is not permitted.
There may find many other clauses in the employment contract. So often becomes a Confidentiality clause incorporated, which prohibits the employee from passing on company secrets and other internal information. Mind you, the regulation can still apply even if the employment relationship has long been terminated. Possible contractual penalties, expiry and exclusion periods can also be found in a separate paragraph in the contract. In the end, the employer often inserts a clause stating how any changes to the contract should be made.