Cameroon: 5 essential tips for writing a work contract

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Good practices, negotiation, essential clauses… Jacques Nyemb, lawyer and managing partner of the Nyemb law firm comes back to the essential points to be mentioned when drafting a work contract in Cameroon.

In Cameroon, an employment contract is not necessarily a written contract unless it provides for a trial period, stipulates a fixed term of more than three months or requires the installation of the worker out of his usual residence. However, it is advisable to draw up a contract to formalize the essential bases of the collaboration – in particular to specify the employee’s function, salary, rights and obligations – in order to avoid any interpretation contrary to the employer’s initial will.

Each person has his own drafting techniques for drawing up an employment contract, but in order to avoid certain pitfalls, it is recommended that the employer adopt some good practices for the preparation and drafting of employment contracts.

Here are the five tips:

1.Identifying good practices in your sector of activity

The first recommendation is to gather information on the good practices and values of companies belonging to the same sector of activity as the employer; the objective being to be able to compare the salary practices and other benefits offered in the sector of activity concerned.

Indeed, this would allow the employer to compare its offer with those of competing companies and ultimately to be the most attractive in order to be able to attract and retain the best profiles.

This information is generally available on company websites and from specialized recruiters.

  1. Master the negotiation process

The purpose here is to draw the employer’s attention to the legal consequences of an offer of employment. Indeed, after the job interview, in the event that the employee’s application has been accepted, the employer will send the employee a written confirmation of the position, specifying the place of work, the remuneration and the starting date. This letter can be qualified as a promise of employment.

However, the promise to hire can, in certain cases, be considered as a contract of employment when it is sufficiently precise. Consequently, in the event of withdrawal of the offer, the employer may be liable for dismissal without real and serious cause.

It is therefore advisable to clearly define and mark out the hiring process according to the employer’s preferences and strategic choices.

  1. Master the applicable legal framework

Labor law provides for a number of mandatory rules that must be respected by the employer in order to avoid nullity of the contract or liability. As an example, in Cameroonian labor law, the employment contract with a foreign worker who is not approved by the Minister in charge of Labor, before any commencement of execution, is automatically null and void.

Furthermore, the Labor Code and collective agreements provide for the rights of employees, such as the right to paid vacations, as well as mandatory clauses such as the employee’s trial employment or his professional category, which an employer must respect. It is therefore recommended that the employer keep a legal watch on the evolution of the regulations in force.

In certain cases, particularly when the employer is not familiar with the applicable legal framework, it is recommended to seek the assistance of counsel outside the company for the drafting of employment contracts.

  1. Carefully review the essential clauses

Although labor law is an imperative right, the employer still has the possibility of adjusting the conditions of hiring and working conditions of employees. The employer can thus provide for special clauses such as non-competition clauses, exclusivity clauses or mobility clauses.

However, it is recommended that the employer pay particular attention to these clauses. Indeed, as far as non-competition and exclusivity clauses are concerned, although they are essential to protect the legitimate interests of the company, these clauses infringe on the employee’s freedom to work. They must therefore be limited in time and space and, in the case of non-competition clauses, be accompanied by a financial counterpart.

  1. Adapting the content of the contract

No one size fits all – hiring and working conditions of employees vary according to the position offered. The employment contract must take into account the specificities of the position and the clauses must be able to be adjusted by the employer.

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