An employment contract is a document that you and your employer sign to settle the terms of your relationship. In most cases, employees are so eager to get started, that they fail to review the terms in their contract. However, reviewing an employment contract is essential to ensure that your rights as an employee are protected.
What Goes Into an Employment Contract?
Aside from describing your job responsibilities and your salary, the contract will also address many other aspects of your employment relationship, such as:
- Duration of the job (one year, two years, or indefinitely)
- Your benefits (health insurance, vacation leave, disability leave, etc.)
- Grounds for termination
- Limitations on your ability to compete with the business once you leave
- Protection of the company’s trade secrets and client lists
- The company’s ownership of your work
- Methods of resolving disputes that arise about the agreement
- Whether it is an “at-will” agreement (whether the employer can end the employment relationship without giving either notice or a reason)
How an Employee Contract May Not Benefit You
Employee contracts are created to protect the company’s interests and protect its bottom line. Employers will want to ensure that you don’t leak confidential information about the business and will want the ability to let you go if they deem it necessary. However, some terms may significantly impact your ability to file a claim against the employer if a situation were to arise.
Invalid Terms in a Contract
Many contracts can contain invalid terms when the employer does not seek legal guidance to ensure that the terms are legitimate in a court of law. The employer may include things in the fine print that are inappropriate or that are against state laws. Invalid terms in the contract could jeopardize the entire agreement and lead to other issues such as enforceability. For such reasons, it is vital that you, as an employee, seek legal guidance to ensure your employment contract protects you.
How Do I Know If My Employment Contract Protects My Best Interests?
Employment contracts may vary depending on the employer, so the best way to determine whether your employment contract protects you is by having an experienced attorney review it. Employment contracts can be a form of protection if you were to experience a breach of contract, retaliation, wrongful termination, sexual harassment, or discrimination. Even with an at-will contract, you have rights that protect you.