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.
• 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.