Did you read your offer letter before signing it? Understand termination clauses too

Apart from the basic details including whether it is a full-time position, part-time position and remuneration payable, conditions of employment that refer to the work timings, leave policies, severance policies and termination clauses are equally important.
A middle-aged IT sector employee was in for a shock recently when his human resource manager informed him about his termination over the phone and giving less than 24 hours to resign.

What was worse was that he had willingly agreed to be a part of this situation when he had signed his employment contract a few years ago.
The shock over his termination wouldn't have been as devastating if the IT executive had either read his offer letter properly or renegotiated the terms of employment.

Typically, a letter of employment often called the offer letter is considered a legal document on which an employee signature declares consent to the terms of employment. It also means that he/she has fully understood is ready to bear the consequences of any future actions by the company.
Apart from the basic details including whether it is a full-time position, part-time position and remuneration payable, conditions of employment that refer to the work timings, leave policies, severance policies and termination clauses are equally important.
Sharanya Ranga, Partner, Advaya Legal said that an employee should carefully read through the key clauses impacting his/her employment with the employer including termination with or without cause, notice period and payment in lieu of notice, severance pay among others.
“For senior employees, having a carefully drafted non-compete clause is very important. Though employment contracts usually favour employers, an employee should look at the terms governing the employment relationship and try to negotiate on such aspects,” she added.
Senior human resource officials at companies said that usually the designation and cost-to-company is what employees look at.  The head of human resource practice at a mid-size ITeS firm explained that in majority of cases, whether a prospective candidate will accept the offer will depend on the hike that they have been provided and the job position.
“Conditions of employment which include clauses related to the notice period and termination are ignored. This is a lapse on the part of the candidate because in scenarios of sudden retrenchment without pay, they are left with no bargaining power since they had agreed to these terms in the initial contract,” the official added.
The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (IDA) gives a guidance on the conditions related to retrenchment of workmen. The rules say that a workman who has been an employee of a company for over a year cannot be sacked or laid off without being given one month's notice in writing.
Rituparna Chakraborty, Senior Vice-president, TeamLease Services said that any contract of employment needs to have a notice period and see that before signing it. “While notice periods in long-term contracts are usually 30 days, they could even be even lesser. One should negotiate for atleast a 30-day notice period,” she added.
Law also states that if an individual has served for five years in a company (as per IDA Act), they are required to be paid 15 days salary for every completed year of service as gratuity if they are retrenched.
Though in regular circumstances, a notice period of 30 days is generally given, in some cases employees have been asked to resign within 12-24 hours. However, if this part of the employment contract duly signed by the concerned employee, no relief can be sought.
Experts also suggest that candidates should talk to their prospective human resource heads to have a favourable contract drafted. Chakraborty added that in today’s world, terms like ‘permanent job’ are redundant, it is possible for individuals to negotiate their way out.
“If you possess a niche skill or degree or are being hired at a senior position, you may be able to have your way. For an entry-level talent, it is tough,” she added.