Being offered a new job is an exciting time. With so many different factors to consider, it can be easy to overlook the employee benefits on offer and what this means for you and your future.

Pensions advice specialist, Portafina, recently surveyed the nation to find out how many Brits actually check their contract before accepting a job, and therefore, how many have signed an employment contract without fully understanding what they’re signing up to.

More than half (53%) of those surveyed revealed they have accepted a job offer without fully reviewing the employment contract.

Those in creative jobs are the worst offenders with over two thirds (69%) of artists, designers and creatives saying they have failed to review their employment agreement before accepting a job offer. Perhaps unsurprisingly, lawyers are the most likely to ask to see a contract or list of benefits during the application stage (73%).

With almost three-quarters of working adults (72%) saying they are fully aware of their current employer’s pension plan, it’s no surprise to see pensions come out on top as the most important employee benefit for job hunters, alongside holiday entitlement.

The top ten most important employee benefits:

  • 1=. Pension scheme/plan (25%)
  • 1=. Number of days holiday (25%)
  • 3. Flexible working hours (17%)
  • 4. Sick pay (12%)
  • 5. Bonus scheme (6%)
  • 6. Life insurance (5%)
  • 7. Income protection (4%)
  • 8=. Health plan (e.g. dental care (2%)
  • 8=. Company car (2%)
  • 10. Childcare vouchers (1%)

After pension plan and holiday entitlement, nearly 30% of Brits consider flexible working hours and sick pay as important employee benefits. Despite the value of these benefits, two thirds (66%) admit they have never asked to see a contract or list of benefits whilst applying for a new job.

So, just what issues could the nation face by not paying attention to their employment contract?

Jodie Hill, Managing Director and Employment Solicitor at Thrive Law warns; “Not reviewing your contract means you lose the opportunity to negotiate important elements of your job such as your job spec, hours, salary, pension and notice period. You may find yourself with an inaccurate job title or description.”

Jodie recalls: “We once had a client who didn’t realise they had agreed to deductions in their contract. This meant they had to repay their training costs (a significant sum of money!) and were a lot worse off for it.”

Sally O’Shea, European Employee Relations Manager, and Lifestyle blogger at Sweetiesal comments: “It is really important to take a good look at your contract of employment before formally accepting a job offer as it is really the only chance you have to negotiate.

“Make sure you get paper copies of your contracts and if you accept a promotion within your current company, insist on everything being put in writing. It helps you argue the point later that you are entitled to longer notice for example if you were to be made redundant, and without any paper trail it is difficult to argue the point.”

Commenting on the findings, Jamie Smith-Thompson, Managing Director of Portafina said “As a company, we pride ourselves on the benefits we offer our employees and see it as a big reason why someone would want to come and work with us. However, I appreciate that the job market can be tough and if there isn’t a wide selection of jobs available, the perks of a job could be the last thing on your mind.

“It’s worth remembering though that a workplace pension scheme isn’t a perk, it’s compulsory. Providing you don’t opt-out, from April 2019 you’ll automatically be saving 8% of your salary a year into your pension. As well as your own contributions (4%) you’ll receive tax relief and employer contributions.

“Some employers go beyond compulsory, offering valuable extras such as matching your own contributions. Always spend time looking at the true value of the employee benefits you are being offered, as they can really add up.”

For more information about auto-enrolment and why opting out could cost you thousands visit: http://www.portafina.co.uk/blog/opting-out-of-auto-enrolment-could-cost-you-thousands