The Dos and Don'ts of Employee Contracts

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Employee contracts play critical roles in establishing the terms of an employee-employer relationship. Employee contracts can also define what an employer can and can’t do in certain situations.

For example, some employee contracts prohibit employers from firing employees for reasons other than those already addressed in state and federal law. You may have grounds to take legal action if an employer violates your contract’s terms.

What is an Employee Contract?

An employee contract is a legal document that may address such matters as:

  • When a worker’s employment begins (and, in cases of temporary employment, when it ends)
  • How a worker is to be paid
  • Job title and duties
  • Conditions for termination of employment
  • Non-compete clauses
  • Dispute resolution methods

The specific details employee contracts should and shouldn’t include can depend on various factors. For example, in an industry where leaking trade secrets can cause major disruptions, a non-compete or non-disclosure clause may be a critical element of a contract.

An employee contract is important because it’s a legal document. Both an employee and an employer must abide by its terms.

Dos of Employee Contracts

Steps an employer should always take when drafting an employment contract include:

  • Ensuring all language is as clear and thorough as necessary, particularly when defining the terms of employment (such as duties, pay, hours, etc.)
  • Protecting confidential information with non-disclosure and confidentiality clauses
  • Explaining the circumstances and conditions under which employment may be terminated
  • Explaining intellectual property rights

Both employees and employers may consider reviewing contracts with lawyers. It’s always helpful to have a legal professional confirm a legal agreement is sound.

Don'ts of Employee Contracts

Employers can make errors when drafting employee contracts. Mistakes to avoid include:

  • Using vague language that may result in misunderstandings
  • Including clauses that conflict with employment laws
  • Omitting any important details (such as details about benefits, probationary periods, etc.)

Employers should also review and update contracts regularly. Failing to do so may result in employee contracts conflicting with changes to employment laws or new company policies.

What To Do If Your Contract Is Violated

There are various potential ways an employer could violate the terms of an employee contract. Examples include:

  • Firing an employee for reasons that, per their contract, aren’t valid
  • Not paying wages as specified in a contract
  • Requiring a worker to work longer hours than their contract specifies, or not allowing them to work the number of hours their contract allows for

A violation of an employee contract is often a violation of employment law in general. You may have grounds to file an employment law claim if such a violation has occurred.

Speak With an Employment Law Attorney

Understanding your rights as an employee can be complex. If you want to learn more about the potential merits of your case, speak with a legal professional.

An employment law attorney can answer your questions and help you determine your next steps. Their representation may also improve your odds of winning a case. Get started today by taking the Free Case Evaluation to speak with an independent lawyer who subscribes to this website.

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