New jobs can be exciting. Whether it’s a new job offer with another company or a promotion in a company you already work with, you have every right to be excited about your new position. Despite that, you should still be cognizant of what you’re signing up for. With all new jobs and some promotions, you receive a new employment contract to sign before you start. There are certain things you should look for and read with a keen eye so you can best understand them.
If an employment contract is missing something, or you’re not sure what to look for, the employment contract attorneys at Bantle & Levy can help.
What Does an Employment Contract Need to Have?
From descriptions, policies, clauses, and permissions, there are several things that employment contracts need to include, and if they don’t, you shouldn’t sign them. Sometimes, clauses or policies that are not in your best interest will be hidden away between the lines of some hard-to-read print. An attorney can review your contract and give you recommendations on whether or not you should sign it. We look for ten things that every employment contract should have in some form.
#1. Job Description
Having your job description in written form is for more than just your information. Yes, it’s important that you understand what’s expected of you. It’s also important that you have written confirmation of what your employers expect of you. If your employer tries to significantly change your job description after hiring you, you can take legal action against them.
While there are cases where this isn’t a big deal, if your employer tries to take advantage of your work ethic or overwork you, you shouldn’t have to take it while worrying about losing your position. We’ll review your job description so you know exactly what your employer can ask you to do.
#2. Benefits and Compensations
What does your employer cover in terms of expenses on the job and at home? Many employers say that they offer things like health benefits, but how much they actually cover may not be what you expect.
Also, what sort of pay should you expect? Were you promised a specific salary that won’t actually come immediately and only after certain conditions have been met? Employers write their contracts to best suit them, and offering their employees more money isn’t something many want to do.
#3. Time Off, Sick Days, & Vacation
Many employers don’t want to acknowledge that employees have lives outside of the office. They’d much rather have their employees working all day, every day, making them money, not giving them time off for vacation.
But many federal and state laws require that employers give employees a certain amount of sick days and time off each year. Some employers will offer more than most to entice new employees. If you were offered more time off than usual, you should look through your contract to find out what you are actually entitled to.
#4. Schedule and Employment Period
Not only do you need to know what hours your employer expects you to work, but you also need written confirmation so they can’t try to make you work more than you agreed to. If your employment contract states that you’re expected to work from 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM, Monday through Friday, you can’t be fired for not doing so until your employment contract is revised and signed.
Some employers will have clauses where they can change your work hours under certain circumstances. Some of these circumstances may be acceptable to you, and some may not, but you should know about them first.
If your employer has you on a probationary period, you need to have the dates of when that period starts and ends.
#5. Confidentiality Agreements
Most businesses have some type of intellectual property that they do not want to be revealed to their competitors and/or customers until the right time. Their employees have to know the company’s secret IPs to perform their duties. It’s common, and not entirely unreasonable for employers to require employees to sign confidentiality agreements, promising that they will not reveal confidential information.
The employer can also sign an agreement that they will not reveal or give out any confidential information about the employee to anyone else. This can include things such as your address, work, pay, and more.
#6. Technology Policy
Some technology is permitted in the workplace, and others are not. Some workplaces that provide you with technology to do your job may have rules on how and when you can access them. These rules can be for safety, or to make sure you’re not using the tools for something other than work.
#7. Sexual Harassment Policy
When 38% of all women and 14% of men report experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace, it’s important for companies to have sexual harassment policies to respond to claims. These policies should detail what behavior is and isn’t acceptable, along with how they will protect you against such behavior.
If these policies aren’t up to your standards, you might want to reconsider whether or not you want to accept your new position. Their sexual harassment policy and reporting process can reveal a lot about how an employer handles these situations.
#8. Expense Policy
Some jobs require that you spend money to do them. This can be so you can complete a project, take out a potential client to dinner, or meet with a business partner across the country. This can lead to expenses for supplies, food, travel accommodations, and more. Some employers will try to avoid covering these fees and leave the responsibility for them to you.
If there is no expense policy and you expect there to be expenses, make sure you’re not expected to pay the costs yourself.
#9. Discrimination Policy
Much like sexual harassment, discrimination in the workplace remains a problem and your employer’s policies reveal how they will deal with it. You can’t always rely on employers to do the right thing, so make sure that the contract provides you with protection. Even if you don’t receive the protection you deserve against discrimination, you should have the ability to protect yourself from it in court.
New York State is an at-will employer. This means that employers can fire employees for any legal reason or no reason at all. Likewise, an employee may also terminate their employment at any time. This means that it can be incredibly difficult to build a case against wrongful termination based on the firing process alone.
Your employment contract should inform you whether or not your employer retains the right to fire you at will or if they have their own specific process for it. If they don’t, you need to find out so you’re not blindsided by your employer later in your career.
Contact the Employment Contract Attorneys at Bantle & Levy for Help
You have a new job, that should be exciting. Don’t let excitement blind you to the tricks your new current employer might pull to save themselves money and protect their business rather than you. Make sure you have an attorney read through your employment contract so you’re not hurt by any surprises later on.
The employment contract attorneys at Bantle & Levy have extensive experience in employment law and helping employees avoid having their best interests violated. If you need an attorney to review a contract, contact us today.