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How to Get the Best Employment Contract

By: Jason Markum

People move from job to job all the time these days. In fact, job hopping seems to be more popular now than ever. This has become a huge problem for many companies because they are finding it harder and harder to keep key employees. Because of this, employment contracts are becoming more and more complex in an attempt by the companies to keep a hold of their employees.

But there is a golden lining. Because companies are so keen on holding on to their employees, you can negotiate a better employment contract in many cases. There are benefits and disadvantages for you and the company when it comes to signing an employment contract and I’m not going to go into these in any sort of detail in this article, just keep in mind that there are pluses and minuses involved from your point of view and also from the company’s point of view. It’s not a bad idea to try and look at it through the eyes of the company, but that’s a subject for another article…

So what should you expect to find in your employment contract? In other words, what should you expect to find in a normal employment contract?

The first thing you’ll find is the “term”. The term indicates when the contract should begin and when the contract should end. Many if not most employment contracts tend to run from 3 to 5 years.

The next thing you’ll find are your specific duties. Some people call this a job description. This is a very important part of any employment contract because it is the basis for any employers claim to fire you “for cause”. Many times this section will be generic or general in nature, but for your sake you want it to be as specific as possible.

The next thing you’ll find is a section on compensation. How much will you earn? This usually discusses the minimum salary as well as lays out any bonuses or stock options and things of this nature that you can expect.

The next thing you’ll find is a section on vacation time. How often each year and for how long can you expect to have a vacation? Can your vacation days be accrued? Will you be paid in lieu of a vacation? These are all things that you can expect to find in this section of your employment contract.

Benefits, including life and health insurance, and any sort of pension plans you can expect your company to provide will be found in this section. You can also find information on relocation expenses especially if you will be moving to your new job from another area of the country or world.

Next you can expect to find a section on termination. We don’t like to think about this but it’s good to be spelled out before hand in your contract exactly what circumstances will lead to your termination. It will probably also discuss how you yourself can terminate your employment contract; making it a very important section.

Expect another section on severance pay. Will you receive a golden parachute if you get fired? Under what circumstances will these things occur?

You should also find a disability provision that discusses exactly what happens should you be unable to continue your employment due to disability; as well as what does and what does not constitute a breach of contract when it comes to disability.

Finally expect a clause that discusses perks. Will you be receiving an expense account? What about a limousine or club membership? Will you have to sign a noncompete provision or arbitration clause? Will the company buy your old house from you in order to relocate you? These are all things that fall under the category of perks.

Well there you have it… these are the main things you can expect to find in any employment contract. They are all negotiable, so keep that in mind before signing anything. Depending on the level of the job and the amount of compensation, you may wish to speak to an employment attorney who specializes in employment contracts.

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