April 16, 2018

Written Employment Contracts Are For Everyone! You Shouldn’t Risk Not Documenting It!

Congratulations! You landed a great new hire. Or, perhaps you’ve turned a new page in your own career. What’s next?

Why should you have a written employment agreement?

New employment relationships can be exciting, in terms of the future possibilities they bring. However, without a good road map for the relationship, you could wind up taking wrong turns or the journey could take you somewhere you didn’t expect.

What is an employment agreement?

An employment agreement will cover at least the key parts of the relationship: position, job description, pay, and hours. Other terms of the contract may include specifics like policies and procedures.

Beware skimpy or poorly drafted contracts. For example, contradictory or unclear terms can render the whole contract useless or unenforceable.

You should also consider your business needs, within the contract. Specifics can include what level of employee you are hiring: executive, management, or operational? Legal consequences result from the role. You may also want to protect specific business assets like confidential information, intellectual property, customer information, or competitive market share.

Setting out mutual expectations is one of the best ways to achieve your goals, and avoid financial losses.

Tips for employers:

  • Avoid boilerplate contracts: a tailored form of employment contract that reflects your specific business needs is the first step to achieving your goals and reducing the risk of future disputes.
  • Have a clear set of expectations: creating a comprehensive organizational structure, HR policy, and policies and procedures manual, may create a toolkit that results many issues before they arise.
  • Be ready: conflict is inevitable, despite efforts to avoid it. Have a plan for what you will do to solve employment issues when they exceed your internal resources’ capacity to handle them. Have a trusted legal counsel retained to advise you on your ongoing employment law issues.

Tips for employees:

  • Read and understand your contract before signing: understand what your employer expects from you. Make sure anything offered to you is included in the written contract before signing. Look carefully at your rights upon termination of employment.
  • Red Flags: are you being asked to sign a written contract a while after you start your role? Are you being asked to change duties significantly, after you have worked there awhile? Are you being singled out for behaviour tolerated in others in a similar role? Are you being terminated without any explanation, or without pay?

Walsh LLP’s Employment Law professionals are here to support you with all your employment law needs, whether to advise you on specifics of the employment relationship, help you draft policies or employment agreement documents, or to assist you in resolving an employment litigation matter. Call us today to discuss your needs!