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The Complicated — and Compulsory — Employment Contract

Sometimes, in the excitement of securing a new professional venture, critical details of the arrangement are overlooked. It’s a potentially risky oversight that can expose new employee and employer both to problems that a comprehensive employment contract might have sidestepped.

The particulars of a thoughtful, wide-ranging employment contract — which needn’t be written and is just as binding in verbal form — are fairly straightforward. But that doesn’t mean they’re always present.

ImageIdeally, this important document will include mention of:

compensation. That vast category includes such specifics as salary, wages, bonuses, profit-sharing, overtime, benefits, vehicle allowances and vacation pay. Discussion around this essential needs to cover the timing of their dispensation, along with their particulars.

benefits. Often, employee benefits like health and life insurance only take effect after a set probationary period. It’s important that you acknowledge this waiting interlude and, if it doesn’t suit you, that you petition to have it waived.

termination. As counterintuitive as contemplation about the end of a job at its launch might seem, it’s important for both sides of the relationship to be clear about its details. Here, issues like reasonable notice, eligible dismissal terms, good-faith-and-fair-dealing obligations of both parties upon termination, and termination compensation need to be addressed.

policies and procedures. Familiarity with a lengthy employee handbook loaded with minutiae about an employee’s corporate expectations might seem an entirely disagreeable obligation, but it’s essential for newcomers for the part it has to play in a range of their employment particulars. These might include expectations of employee confidentiality, non-compete restrictions, and details about changes to the contract in such areas as job title and duties.

If either side of a new professional engagement has any issues with the expectations set out in an employment contract, they are wise to raise them with their counterpart sooner rather than later.

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