By: Sandra Jung

As a fresh graduate, finding a job is an exciting achievement. However, it is important to pay attention to the employment contract that is offered to you to ensure your expectations are met, and your rights are protected. 


It is essential for a contract to specify the number of hours that the employer expects you to work for, usually in the form of hours per week. In Canada, there is no specific guideline as to how many hours would constitute full-time or part-time employment, but the general consensus is that anything less than 30 hours a week would be considered part-time, whereas anything more than that can be seen as full-time[1]. It should be noted that generally, in Ontario, the maximum amount of hours an employee is required to work per week is 48 hours, and anything exceeding this has to be stated in a written agreement between the employer and employee[2]. However, this does not impact what hours are considered for overtime pay. In Ontario, the employer is obligated to provide overtime pay when the work week has exceeded 44 hours, but there are exemptions to this based on occupation[3].


An employment contract must also specify the kind of benefits that the employee is entitled to. For example, it should be stated in the agreement if your employer is offering you health insurance, vacation days, paid time off and sick leave[4].


The agreed-upon salary must be stated in the employment contract, including how frequently payments will be made. On top of that, some employment contracts might have a term regarding bonus payments, and the expectations for bonus entitlement should be made clear by the employer[5].


Some employment contracts may have a non-solicitation clause. This means that during employment, and some time after you leave the company, you are restricted from pursuing clients, customers, vendors, other employees, and business partners[6]. It should be noted that the employment contract should not have a non-compete clause as it is prohibited[7]. A non-compete agreement is a term stating that the employee cannot engage in any work or business that can be seen as competition to the employer once they leave the job. 


Although this is not a required term for an employment contract, some contracts do have a termination clause. This sets out the conditions under which the employer can terminate the contract, as well as what the employee would be entitled to under these circumstances – such as severance, the required notice period, and/or termination pay[8]. In Ontario, the minimum notice period is considered to be 1 week for every year of employment[9].

When should I sign the contract?

The good news is that there is no exact time when an employment contract must be signed. That means there is no pressure to sign it on-site immediately, but signing the contract before beginning your job would be a good idea. It is good practice to read through the contract carefully before putting your name on it to ensure that all of the things that were agreed upon beforehand are written down in the agreement.