The Nitty-Gritty of an Employment Contract: What You Need to Know

So you’ve sealed the deal and accepted a job offer. Now you may be wondering: what’s next?

When accepting a job offer, there are quite a few things to consider to ensure the process goes smoothly. First, check to see how much time you have to respond and use that time to make an informed decision. Make sure that you have agreed on the job title and fully read and understand the responsibilities in the job description. It is also a good idea to talk to your future supervisor and coworkers to get an idea of the environment.

An important part of accepting a job is negotiating salary offers, including planning to present counter-offers. Being prepared for this and doing research ahead of time can prevent common mistakes in salary negotiations and the understanding of your conditions of employment.

Recently on-boarded employees can get caught up in the whirlwind of the job interview process and slip up on salary negotiations by settling, revealing how much they would accept, focusing on need rather than value, not being prepared or well-researched, making a pitch too early, accepting or declining a job offer too early, taking negotiations personally, and not asking for the final answer in writing.

Mistakes are not only common in salary negotiations, but in the signing of an employment contract as a whole. Rushing the process without taking time to understand the fine print, which is written by an attorney to shift risk away from the employer, can put employees at legal risk and even impair their ability to move between employers.

Aside from understanding legal risk, it is critical to understand your employer’s expectations and your job duties. It is necessary to review an employment contract with a fine-toothed comb to avoid mistakes and completely understand the detailed ins and outs before signing or negotiating a contract. For this reason, it is wise to loop-in a legal professional for the employment contract review process, as a skilled professional can explain the details of the contract and their implications.

What to review

An employment contract contains essential items about the conditions of your employment that should be completely understood and considered with the help of a legal professional before signing. A contract should include a detailed job description, which an employee should request if the description is too vague.

Having clearly outlined duties gives employers less leeway when claiming an employee isn’t doing their job correctly. Highly specific or unreasonable grounds for termination are another concern. The terms and conditions of compensation and benefits are some of the most important aspects of an employment contract. It is essential that this part of the contract is clearly outlined so that it is understood how compensation operates, including benefits, bonuses, profit-sharing plans, commission structures, and equity awards.

Key clauses to look out for

Utilising the assistance of a legal professional to understand the legal jargon present in contract clauses is a key step in fully grasping what that jargon implies. Non-compete clauses restrict an employee’s ability to work within the same industry in the same geographical location for a period of time following termination. More specific non-compete clauses are easier to enforce but are not as limiting when it comes to working for a different company.

Non-solicit agreements, which prevent “poaching” former co-workers or clients from the previous job, may also be present in a contract and should be considered carefully. No-hire agreements are similar, preventing you from hiring old co-workers at a new company considered a competitor.

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