You received a job offer, and it can be tempting to go ahead and sign what’s offered to you, particularly if you’re excited about the position or you’ve been hunting for a while and interviewed for several jobs.
An important question that arises, however, is whether it’s worth having an employment contract reviewed by a lawyer prior to accepting. We believe there are significant benefits to having a lawyer analyze both short- and long-term contracts.
BASICS OF EMPLOYMENT CONTRACTS
Knowing the conditions and parameters of a new work arrangement created by the employment contract is crucial before starting a job. This is because there are serious legal implications that impact your rights not just on hiring, but during your employment and in the termination process (whether resignation or dismissal).
An experienced employment lawyer can review the employment contract to verify the conditions and parameters with those stated in any termination notice clause(s). An effective and efficient review process can equip an individual with critical information to assist in determining what rights they have, and where there may be concerns.
The following is what we believe to be the top reasons why you should consider getting your employment contract vetted by an experienced employment lawyer.
DO YOU NEED TO SIGN YOUR EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT IMMEDIATELY?
Every person is entitled to take time to execute the employment contract. The amount of time you have is not set in law, although at least three days is typically considered as reasonable. Sultan Lawyers can answer any questions that you have regarding the contract and indicate potential negotiations. You can then be assured of what you’re committing to when your employment contract is reviewed in detail by employment counsel.
UNDERSTANDING THE KEY ELEMENTS OF AN EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT
The employment arrangement between you and your employer is governed by your employment contract (and related statutory laws and the common law). It contains specific information about your job, such as your role and duties, pay, leave benefits, working hours and location, termination procedures, confidentiality, non-compete provisions, workplace regulations, and much more.
In signing a contract, you are indicating that you consent to everything contained in your employment contract. Therefore, you should ensure that you understand all terms and that the contract specifically covers circumstances that are important to you, such as severance, the option to work from home (especially with Canada’s Covid-19 policies), paid leave and stat holidays, etc.
A common problem that arises is that contracts often reference legal terminology which is not easily interpreted. Most employment contracts specifically use phrasing and clauses that can be complex or confusing, making it challenging to fully comprehend the legal ramifications. Some contracts can include something called an “entire agreement” provision, which restricts your commitment to what is expressly stated in the document. This implies that in a legal setting, verbal commitments or emails are useless and unenforceable.
Unfortunately, we often find that employees are surprised to learn that they’re legal entitlements, particularly in relation to dismissal. There may also be rights that are less than what was expected, including in relation to vacation entitlements. These aspects of the employment contract can have a significant impact on employees and where they are not prepared to compromise. It is, however, much more difficult to have a contract and terms revised once a contract is signed.
Therefore, before signing an employment contract, we strongly recommend that you have it evaluated by a competent employment lawyer to make sure that any verbal commitments are addressed and that you completely understand the conditions of your employment.
BREAKING DOWN PARTS OF THE EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT
In advance of an employment contract review, it is important to become familiar with relevant employment legislation, including minimum rights provided to any employee, such as the Employment Standards Act, Workers’ Compensation Act, and the Occupational Health and Safety Act. An employment lawyer can accordingly help employees understand these elements in your employment contract which do not comply with the law and those which should be considered for negotiation. Simply put, the meeting can determine which aspects of the agreement are enforceable and which ones likely require a more in-depth review.
The employment contract should include your precise designation, work schedules, job responsibilities, and even organizational tenure (if it is not indefinite). It is essential to have this information since it makes expectations clear. It’s also crucial to have some “wiggle room” when explaining your responsibilities to account for potential adjustments.
Read more about modifications to employment contracts here.
Pay and Perks
Whether you are paid by the hour or on a salary, your employment contract should specify your income as well as any potential perks and incentives you may be eligible for. Employers are not obligated to increase an employee’s salary each year unless indicated within the employment contract.
Your contract can include benefits such as pension plans from the employer, stock options, and/or other interests. Breaking down and understanding the terms of these benefits in advance of signing the agreement will be advantageous in planning long-term commitments.
Some employers limit compensation available upon dismissal through the implementation of a restrictive severance clause in the employment contract. Regardless of what the contract states, however, you are guaranteed to receive Employment Standards Code‘s minimum reasonable notice time or compensation in lieu.
We encourage you not to overlook or ignore this crucial section of your contract. The contract term most beneficial to employees is likely one where an employer must have just or good cause to fire an employee.
An essential component of your employment contract is an exclusivity or non-compete provision since it may have an impact in your career commitments now and in the future, even after you stop working for the company.
If there is a non-compete or exclusivity provision, you may be prevented from working for a competing company or even starting your own. If, however, these terms are poorly drafted, excessively broad, or difficult to interpret, it may be difficult to enforce them. To ensure that you are equipped to make important decisions around this issue, an employment lawyer should evaluate the contract.
If you have questions about existing or new employment contracts and require advice on how to ensure your rights are preserved, whether in relation to termination, wrongful dismissal or otherwise, please contact Toronto employment lawyers, Sultan Lawyers at 416-214-5111 or here.
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