Given the success of our article (back in 2015), we thought necessary to come up with more information on employment relations in Mauritius. This article may hopefully give everyone an insight into the content of a usual contract of employment.
Future employers, I believe, would get some clear indications. Also, among our readers, are hundreds of foreigners who are considering possibilities to invest or work in Mauritius. They are likely to fall at eitherside of table; employer or employee.
The key element to any employment, is the agreement between the employer and the employee. This is defined through an employment contract where all the terms and conditions are agreed and signed by both parties. I often get questions from both sides asking explanations on certain conditions and clauses mentioned on the contract. The first curious thing to note is that (maybe in desperation) some people sign documents and engage themselves without giving due attention to the content of the agreement. An employment contract is first and foremost a legal agreement binding two parties; the employer & the employee.
It is therefore the duty of the future employee to read and understand the contents before signing. This should not be a chance-taking formality which is done when in need and which is discarded when no longer useful or interesting. The employer, obviously, is more familiar with the document as he normally would use the same format and conditions frequently. The onus of reading and understanding rests more on the employee. I list below some of the points that need special attention on an employment contract.
The base laws
Employment laws in Mauritius are defined as the Employments Rights Act. The Act lays the basics of employment laws of the country and covers almost every right of the employee and the employer. The Law is quite elaborate and provide precise and detailed information on applicable rules, obligations and right of both parties: the employer and the employee.
There are other rules and regulations, compiled under Remuneration Orders, to further complement and enforce, with precision, certain additional conditions based on the industry / activity sector of the employer. For instance, a watchman’s conditions of work may not totally be contained under the Employments Rights Act, which is rather a global set of base rules that govern employment conditions. A watchman will be required to work longer hours and generally has a different working environment compared to an office secretary. The Remuneration Orders take care of these specifities.
There are 30 Remuneration Orders covering specific industries. Those not falling under such orders are governed by the Employments Rights Act. Under this article, we are not addressing specifically the applicable rules, but rather the departure point of an employment relation: the contract of employment.
Parties are the persons / entity signing the contract. In an employment contract, there would be two parties: the Employer & the Employee. The parties should be clearly identified and defined on the contract. For instance the name of the employer (generally a corporate body) should be clearly written, as well as its legal domicile and the person representing it for the purpose of this contract and authorized to sign on its behalf. The employee’s name, address, ID card / Passport number should be mentioned.
Commencement and duration
Clear indication should be given on the start date of the contractual obligations (when the employment effectively begins) and the duration of the contract. If there is no defined duration, the contract should state so.
Similary there would be a clause governing termination. This covers notices for termination (resignation, for instance) : method to communicate notice, period of notice, etc. I’ve received many questions from employees who attempt at giving short notices, despite being fully aware of their contractual obligations. Again, when sigining a contract, every party is binding himself to certain conditions. It is totally dishonest to even attempt to escape an obligation which was signed in full consent and knowledge. This is often the case when an employee has a new job opening. Often the new employer is not willing to respect the notice period binding the new employee with his previous employer. In other words, the pressure is (finally) generated by another employer in an attempt to avail itself of the expertise without losing time. In so doing, he violates the right of another employer.
Not respecting a clause may lead to sanctions such as financial claims; particularly if there is a bond signed by both parties, or also when the early departure of the employee causes prejudice to the employer’s business.
Job Title, duties & responsibilities
This is an essential point. The very basis of a contract of employment is ‘Employment’ and the ultimate definition of ‘employment’ is the job title. This shall leave no room for ambiguity, misinterpretation and doubt. The post should be clearly defined on the document.
In many cases, the defining the post (usually in one or two words) does not readily define the duties and responsibilities assigned to the employee. Hence, it is very common to see, even in broad lines, a list of such duties and responsibilities defined in the contract. Such a list allows the employee to understand his area of intervention, generally his lower and upper limits under the contract.
The list of duties & responsibilities cannot be included in an exhaustive manner in the contract. It highlights the main areas of intervention and it generally ended with the clause stating ‘any duties or responsibilities that are generally assigned to such post’.
Neither the employer nor the employee, at the time of signature of a contract, are able to fully appraise the reality of the employment. At the signature stage, there is only a theoretical appraisal of each other’s ability; the employee’s ability to fulfill his obligations and the employer’s ability to offer a position that suits the employee.
The probation period offers a ‘round of observation’ to both parties – offering each party the ability to fully appraise the day-to-day reality of the employment and whether it satisfies their needs. Usually this period is defined under the contract and can stretch for a period between 1 to 3 months. In case the employer is not fully satisfied with the employee’s (under probation) performance, the probation period can further be extended, during which corrective measures and adjustments are carried out.
The employer normally reserves the right not to proceed with the confirmation of the contract if the probation period is not successful. All conditions of the probation period should be mentionned in the employment contract.
Place & Hours of work
Where an employer has a fixed location and hours of work, it is quite usual to see these mentioned straight away in the contract. In other cases, these may be described in general (or broad terms) but still should not leave any space for ambiguity. Any such broad clause should be written in such a way that all parties have a clear understanding of the conditions. Leaving slight confusion or space for misinterpretation eventually leads to dispute.
In the event that an employer has different sites and that the employee may be moved from one site to another, the employer has the reponsibility to state such facts on his contract. The employee should, at all time, be aware of geographic mutation and, where possible the conditions (notices, procedures, etc.) that leads to such transfer. Again, giving as much precision on the contract reduces the occurence of dispute. Of course, such information can only be written if known at the time of signature of the contract.
Remuneration & other benefits
One of the most obvious and essential clauses on a contract ! Nobody offers a contract where the remuneration is not mentioned in a clear and absolute manner – and nobody obviously accept such contract. Quite surprisingly I have seen a couple of contracts where the remuneration section seem to have written in a deliberatly confusion way. This should be avoided at any cost.
In this clause, all other payments (including allowances, benefits in kind, payments, overtime, bonuses, etc) should also be mentionned. In cases where there are complex allowance / bonus payment systems, the system should be clearly defined in this clause. Again, the idea is to remove every doubful and confusing elements.
Before signing a contract, one can check the different legislations available to verify whether the salary / benefits offered are in line with the laws. For instance, it is always advisable to check remuneration orders, where such orders are applicable.
Leaves are governed under labour laws and remuneration orders. However, in many instances, contract of employment do repeat the conditions. It lines up with the general idea of removing confusion and space for misinterpretation. It’s quite funny to see how many employers make it a must to repeat this part in their contract, despite it being clearly written in the laws. If such effort was also made in other parts of the contract, many disputes would have been avoided.
There are other clauses and conditions that can be mentionned in a contract of employment. Depending on the specificities of the job or the business of the employer (for exmplae), both parties may agree to sign additional conditions. These, in any case, should not depart from the Employment Rights Act or Remuneration Orders. They are included in a contract to address additional elements. After all, a contract is an agreement between two parties.
Other elements that may be covered under a contract of employment are, for example:
Use of company assets
Dealingwith intellectual property
The list is not exhaustive and may include many other elements that the employer may deem necessary to ‘protect’ his business. Again, no departure from the Law is allowed as, at the base, such condition would render the contract illegal and therefore not defendable in a Court of Law.
Our HR services
Gibson & Hills Group offers, through its su
bsidiary Talent Lab Ltd, a full range of HR services designed to enhance the HRM (Human Resources Management) in general. This includes
- Design of the general HR policy & strategy
- HR audit
- HR engineering & re-engineering
- HR finance & overheads management
- Payroll administration
- Tax and social charges administration
- Legal documentation: contracts, promotions, dismissals, etc.
- Disciplinary committees
- Motivation and incentives
- Training and team buildling
The above list is just an indication, we do provide a 100% one-stop-shop service to businesses and employers in general
As a licensed recruitment agency, we are also able to help organisation match their HR needs. Our recruitment services includes:
- Definition of the post and its attributions
- Formulation of research strategy
- Screening of candidates and shortlisting
- First interview & interview hosting
- Contract drafting and signature.
I do hope that this first article in the series has given you sufficient first-hand information on what to expect in a contract of employment. We will be coming soon with other articles in the same line. Until then, if readers require any information, they are free to contact us.