Employment Contract: What Should You Look For?
You're probably busy counting your lucky stars that you were able to find a job, but now you have to worry about the contract that your new employer wants you to sign. This can be a little overwhelming, so, first, try to relax.
Your goal here is to look out for yourself, first and foremost. Bear in mind that an employer/employee relationship is mutually beneficial. The employer needs you to perform your job, and you need them to pay you money in exchange for that job. So never go into a contract negotiation thinking that you somehow "owe" the employer something just for hiring you. This doesn't have to be tense or stressful, but you do want to make sure you look out for your own best interests.
Here are a few other tips to help you get through the process:
Pay close attention to every provision of the contract. If an employer tells you that a certain provision is never enforced, or that it would never apply to you, request that the provision be removed from the contract before you sign it. As long as you sign the thing with that clause in it, the verbal statement about the provision won't matter much.
Understand what you are receiving for this job. That includes salary and any benefits you have been offered. Benefits can mean healthcare and retirement, but they can also mean things like sick days, a parking space, access to a gym, subsidized childcare, etc. If an employer tells you you're going to get something, ask to have it in the contract.
Make sure the contract indicates its term. It's important that both you and the employer understand how long you will be committed to one another.
Look for mentions of raises and/or performance bonuses. If the contract term is five years, it's unlikely you'll want to be working for the same rate as you are today. So, get the conditions for raises or performance bonuses worked into your contract.
Finally, be sure the contract indicates how both you and the employer can get out of it, if at all. You need to know if you will be receiving severance if the contract is terminated by the employer, or if you are able to quit without penalty at any time.
Keep a list of everything you have been told about the job and your employment, and make sure you find everything on that list in the contract before you sign it. When in doubt, it's a good idea to have a lawyer look things over, so that you can be sure no one is getting duped in this situation.
Index of Printable Contract Examples
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