What exactly is an employment contract?
Canadian companies are beginning to use employment contracts for every level of worker in hiring processes.
The employment contract used to be in place for high-level executives, as there was plenty on the line for both parties.
With the addition of contracts being spread to lower levels of workers, came a deeper complexity as they now cover a wider array of potential damages.
An employment contract covers the essentials. Such as your compensation, what conditions you can expect to work in and the severance pay that you are entitled to if you’re fired.
However, an employment contract can go much deeper than that. And contain legal jargon that can be complicated and difficult to understand without a background in employment law.
Employers are wanting to reduce their cost of terminations and protect themselves if things are to go sour in the employer-employee relationship.
While they are right in trying to cover themselves, it leaves the employee with a tricky situation. The employee is left to decipher legal jargon, and weigh the option of whether or not to sign their contract right away.
After all, that could be the deciding factor in an employee joining the team, or talking themselves out of a job.
What do you need to know when signing your Employment Contract?
Ultimately, you need to fully understand what it is you are signing.
You don’t want to willingly agree to something that could leave you on the hook if things with your employer go south. The pressure may be high, and you may be inclined to act quickly.
Instead, take your time and make sure you know what your contract covers.
- Your basic provisions
- Whether you are an employee or independent contractor
- Your overtime regulations and compensation
- Your benefits as an employee
- Ownership of intellectual property
- Termination pay
When reading it over, it is intimidating to say that you want time to review it. Especially if you aren’t ready to sign something right away.
And that is completely fine. It is realistic and reasonable to ask for some time to step away and review your employment contract, while even seeking legal advice if you need it.
Things to keep in mind
Legal advice is incredibly beneficial to you if you aren’t sure of some of the terms in your employment contract. Also, your response doesn’t have to simply be an acceptance or a decline.
If you are bringing something to the table – whether it be a skill or a wealth of experience – then legal counsel can help you see what areas of your employment contract can be negotiated.
Don’t just accept the bare minimum. Instead, find what is most important to you and see if there is some leeway with what you are signing.
An employment lawyer can sit down with you and make sure that you are prepared to move forward and sign your employment contract.
References and Footnotes
- The Star: Six Things To Look For In An Employment Contract ↩