Analysing an offer of employment should entail careful consideration of all factors, some of which may not necessarily be obviously finance-related. That said, many seemingly unrelated factors, such as the location of your job, the company’s culture, or its staff retention, may inadvertently have a financial impact on you. It is therefore important to do a thorough analysis of all factors relating to the offer of employment before determining whether to accept the offer.
Nature of contract
Firstly, before making a decision, it is important that you receive the offer and proposed employment contract in writing, and that you fully understand the nature of the position being offered in terms of whether it is a permanent position, fixed-term contract, or temporary position. Further, be clear on whether the offer you receive sets out your basic salary prior to add-on benefits, or whether it is a cost-to-company amount that includes the value of all benefits. Ideally, ask your prospective employer to prepare a breakdown of your salary, deductions, and your final take-home pay, and for details as to when and how your salary will be paid each month.
Determine whether the prospective employer provides retirement fund benefits and the nature of these benefits. Larger employer groups will offer retirement fund benefits in the form of a pension or provident fund, while smaller employers may have membership of a group RA on offer. Either way, determine which investment company is being used, the investment strategies available to choose from, the level at which you can contribute, whether your employer contributes to the fund on your behalf, and what administration platform is being used.
Group life cover
With the added advantage of being subject to group underwriting as opposed to personal underwriting, group life cover is generally more cost-effective than if you were to take out cover in your personal capacity. Group life and disability cover is, therefore, a very attractive benefit. Many employers offer group life cover as a multiple of your annual income, for instance, two-times or three-times your annual salary.
When it comes to providing an income protection benefit, employers generally provide cover as a percentage of your income, for instance, 75% of your monthly income. Importantly, find out whether the income protection benefit includes cover in the event of a temporary disability as the probability of this form of disability is much higher than that of permanent disability. Additional benefits that are sometimes included in group life offerings include funeral benefits and dread disease cover, so find out if these are options. If the group life cover includes a continuation option, this can be advantageous to you in the event that you resign or become retrenched as it would allow you to effectively continue your cover in your personal capacity free of medical underwriting.
Many employers make membership of a medical scheme a condition of employment, so find out whether this is the case and, if so, whether you are free to belong to any registered medical aid or whether you are required to join your employer’s designated medical aid. If this is the case, determine whether the medical aid is an open medical scheme (such as Bonitas, Discovery, or Fedhealth), or whether the scheme is a private one run by the employer group. If the prospective employer offers a medical aid subsidy, find out the details of how this works, which plan options it applies to, and whether the subsidy continues into retirement.
Besides your annual leave, what other leave does the employment contract make provision for? Are you free to take your annual leave at any time of the year, or does the employer restrict when you can take your annual leave? What is the company’s policy when it comes to maternity and paternity leave? Will the employer support leave for your future education goals?
Incentives and bonuses
Ensure that any promises of incentives, commissions or bonuses are reduced to writing and that you are clear as to how they will be calculated, and when they will be paid. If you may be required to work overtime, determine at what rate you will be paid, how this overtime will be recorded, and when your overtime will be paid to you.
Get upfront clarity with regard to how any additional expenses, such as cell phone, travel and hardware costs, will be covered. If you are required to travel for the company, will they provide you with a travelling allowance and an allowance for out-of-town expenditure? If you use your cell phone for work-related functions, will the employer reimburse these costs? Are you required to purchase your own laptop or computer? Who pays for software upgrades and licence renewals?
Especially in the current economic climate, understanding your retrenchment benefits is of great importance. As a minimum, the employer is required to provide you with one week’s remuneration per completed year of service, plus any outstanding leave paid in full. That said, many reputable employers make provision for more generous retrenchment benefits, so be sure to determine what these are.
Education and training
Tertiary education is enormously expensive and if you have a desire to study further in your field of expertise, find out what the employer’s policy is in this regard. Many employers subsidise employee studies either in part or in full, so discuss your future study options with the prospective employer to determine whether they are open to assisting you with future studies, and what funding opportunities are available to you. At the same time, talk to the employer about career and growth opportunities, how they envision your role developing in the organisation and the potential career options available to you within the organisation.
Location of offices
Where the employer’s offices are located and whether they provide staff parking is important as these factors can add an additional layer of costs to your monthly expenditure. Where are the offices in relation to where you live? How much longer will it take you to get to and from work, and will this impact your monthly fuel costs? Will you need to secure aftercare or au pair services as a result of the additional travelling time? Would it be more cost-effective to move closer to your employer? These are all factors that need to be carefully considered.
Work from home opportunities
Depending on your personal circumstances, you may want to gauge your prospective employer’s attitude towards working from home or working flexible hours if and when necessary. How accommodating will they be if you need to work from home in order to care for a sick child? Are they sympathetic to the personal needs of their employees? Are they clock-watchers or do they trust you to get the job done?
Research prospective employer
Spend time doing your homework and researching the prospective employer group, and pay specific attention to the company’s culture, their staff retention, their reputation in the marketplace, their plans for growth, and their propensity for innovation, diversity and forward-thinking. Make sure that you are the right fit for the company, and vice versa.
Finally, be sure to know upfront the value of your skills, qualifications, and experience so that you can determine whether you are being offered a market-related package. If you’re confident in your ability to do the job and satisfied that you meet all criteria in respect of qualifications and job experience, enter the negotiations confidently and be clear on what you are willing to settle for.