March 30, 2022

Your Guide Before Signing An Employment Contract

As there are many industries, there are different types of employment contracts. A general counsel, a doctor, and a professor may have specific contracts to their vocation. Although, they are some universal provisions, which each contract is expected to have, such as the scope of the job, remuneration, termination, and incentives that one cannot dare to ignore. Undoubtedly, a written contract formalizes a relationship between an employer, and employee as well as sets out their  responsibilities. Both parties are legally bound to respect the various legal obligations they owe to each other. As it calls for protecting the interest of contracting parties and leaves no room for misunderstandings and disputes. 

Regardless of your experience level, and work area, who knows, your next job requires you to sign a lengthy employment contract. Your prospective employers or hiring managers might be dealing with tons of contracts, so it’s a formality for them to pass off the same employment contract to a new hire. Therefore, you should avoid skimming, but thoroughly review it by dissecting each provision before signing. If you are a professional, you should be attentive while looking out for key details of employment in a new job contract, as provisions vary from one business to another. 

We all know that the excitement of beginning a new job is inexpressible and produce enormous happiness. Nonetheless, there are a few things to consider prior to signing on the dotted lines. What’s most important is to spend considerable time reading between the lines of the contract, and in case of any concerns, you must seek a lawyer's advice. 


We are happy to acquaint you with some essential employment contract provisions that you should contemplate before signing up for a new job. So, let’s get to it


1. Job information

Each employment contract has a job description, along with specific responsibilities assigned to an employee. It’s important to review the job title and duties as provided in the agreement. You should match your duties stated in the contract with the ones mentioned in the job description posting.

Sometimes, it’s surprising to find duties and responsibilities partially or completely different from the ones you had applied and interviewed for. However, in case of notable discrepancies, for instance, the duties might not be aligned with the candidate’s skills or his/her work ethic. For this purpose, you should talk to the human resource department or the hiring manager before binding yourself legally. Also, make sure to bring this concern to the notice of your employer before signing the contract.


2. About the bucks and benefits

What’s important for you to look out for in an employment contract is whether the compensation and benefits package is the same as it was offered during the interview or in the offer letter. Check the payment details such as annual salary, hourly rate, or any other fringe bonuses and dates on which they would be released. 

Benefits packages vary from one company to another, depending upon their size, and financial ability. Often, the benefits for the permanent, and contractual employees are quite different. Some of the benefits that you can expect from your employer might include healthcare insurance, bonuses, company stock options and other diverse benefits. You might be eligible for other comprehensive benefits, depending upon your position, and responsibilities. 

3. Start date, renewal and working hours

Some job positions are required to be filled on an urgent basis, so make sure your job’s starting date doesn't coincide with your last day at some other company. You need to choose a suitable date for your joining to save yourself from stress and have plenty of time from the date of resigning till commencing work with another organisation.

Yet another important provision to be aware of is your contract's term. You should know what will happen when your employment term expires. Some contracts have auto-renewal provisions, and others might have no renewal. If there is an end date on your contract, it needs a careful review of how to renew it. 

Once you have carefully read your joining date and renewal clause. Look for the number of working hours mentioned in your job contract and see if it’s still the same as per the job description posting. It’s easy for the contractual employees to set their own working days and hours. Since having control of their time, they are free to allocate as much time as they want to the organization hiring them. It’s imperative for employees that their working hours matches their designation. This improves employees’ productivity and helps them stay stress-free. 

4. Your side hustle

During financial hardships, you might consider doing some side work to make extra money to earn a decent living. Some contracts restrict your ability to engage with a competitor business for some informal work or entirely prohibit having a side job. You should look for such provisions “You can only work for us” or you might see “You can’t conflict with us” in your contract, and discuss it with a legal professional. 

5. Non-compete clause

Many employment contracts have this clause, which legally binds an employee not to work for a competitor until a set period. State law can play an important role in this one area by letting you work regardless of contracts prohibition. You should contemplate before signing a contract containing a non-compete clause. Be aware that in case of a breach, you might need to seek an attorney’s service and that could  get expensive, so think beforehand. 

6. Know your state law

One last thing to remember before you sign an employment contract is to know which state law governs your agreement. For instance, the New York State law says that if an employee leaves earlier before completing a 12-month tenure doesn’t bound an employer to pay for accrued vacation time. However, this isn’t the case in Massachusetts. Therefore, do some prior research to understand how state law will govern your dispute or can override some of your contract terms. 

Be smart and attentive to your employment contract 

Signing an employment contract can be a crucial decision in your career. Our considerations are by no means an exhaustive list, there are numerous local and state employment laws that might influence your employment contract. In a nutshell, we ask you to be careful and seek an attorney’s advice if you notice any discrepancy in your contract.

If you need automated employment contract review services for your company, SpeedLegal can help. We have a team of expert lawyers who have been dealing with a variety of employment contracts. So, please feel free to contact us.