When you start a new job, you may or may not be asked to sign an employment contract. Many employers do not actually use a contract for all positions, but if you are asked to sign an employment contract, you should understand the different parts of the contract, and what your new employer might be asking you to agree to.
Employment contracts are legally binding on the parties who sign them. Because of this, take time to read the contract and understand it, or get help from someone to understand it, prior to signing.
Employment Contract Provisions
One very basic thing that might be included in an employment contract is whether the employee is an “at will” employee, or whether there are certain job protections making the employer only able to terminate the employee for wrong doing or under certain specified circumstances.
Your contract may also have your salary included, along with your benefits, the amount of vacation and sick time that you are entitled to, and the date which you will start working for the employer. Your bonus, if you will receive one, might be mentioned here as well.
In addition to these aspects of the contract here are several other things you might see in an employment contract that you may or may not be familiar with:
- Non-Compete Provisions
A non-compete clause limits the employee’s ability to work for a competitor or to take clients away from the employer once the employee no longer works for the company. Non-compete agreements can have serious limiting effects on your future employment possibilities, but they must be limited to a certain amount of time after you leave your position, and within a geographic region.
- Rights to Employee Inventions
During your course of employment with the company, you may be giving rights for anything that you inventto the company. This is a provision usually included in contracts for employees who invent new things as a part of their jobs.
- Confidentiality agreements
You might be asked to agree to keep some work related things secret. If the company has a secret recipe, or is developing a new technology, you might be required to keep information about these things secret. It could also include confidential information about clients. These agreements can extend even past your time with the company. There might be exceptions to the confidentiality agreement for attorneys and spouses.
- Exclusivity provisions
This provision would prevent you from working for another similar company while you were working for the employer.
- Dispute resolution
There is a good chance that your contract will specify certain things that will happen in the event that you and your employer become involved in a dispute. This could be an agreement to arbitrate rather than take any disputes to a court of law. The contract might also give a choice of law provision, which would dictate which laws were going to determine the outcome of a legal dispute between you and the employer. The venue might be included as well, stating where a dispute would be litigated if it did reach court.
- Agency Provisions
The contract might specify that you do not have the right to enter contracts on the behalf of your employer. This means that the contract would state that you were an employee, but not an agent for the company, and could not bind them to agreements unless they gave you their express consent for you to do so.
- Severance agreements
It is possible that your contract will include the terms of a severance agreement, which is something you receive at the end of your time with the company. Sometimes this is a onetime payment, sometimes it is a continuation of your salary for a certain amount of time.
This list is not exhaustive, other provisions might be included as well.
What to Consider Before Signing
If you are not sure what your employment contract is asking of you, you may want to consult an employment attorney prior to agreeing to all of the terms. Once you have signed, it is considerably more difficult to negotiate for a change in the provisions.
After you have signed an employment agreement, you should keep a copy of that contract. You might need to reference the document at some point in the future.
Contact Stern Law, PLLC for A Free Consultation
At Stern Law, PLLC, we have compassionate and caring attorneys ready to work with you to find the best solution to your employment law related legal issues. Contact Stern Law, PLLC today at (844) 808-7529 for a free consultation with an experienced employment attorney.