What to Look For When Signing an Employment Agreement

What to Look For When Signing an Employment Agreement

October 6, 2022

Recent changes in the workforce and workplace needs have led to increasing numbers of workers looking for new jobs and better compensation. Remote and hybrid worksites, competitive pay, and four-day work weeks are becoming the new normal.

This change in employment means signing employment agreements and contracts. Remote interviewing means you may not have had a chance to look at the documents before they arrive in your email for signing. What should you look for before accepting an agreement, and when do you need a second opinion?

What is An Employee Agreement?

An employee agreement should spell out all the terms and conditions you and your prospective employer agreed to when the job was offered. An agreement is a legally binding document between you and your employer that describes all the things expected of both of you. If there are any disputes, the courts will only look at things written in the signed agreement. 

Because of this, review your agreement carefully before signing. It should contain everything you discussed, including:

Compensation

This includes your agreed-upon pay, benefits like insurance and 401(k), paid time off, vacations, and anything that would be covered under compensation.

Work Duties

Your work duties and expectations should be clearly defined. If you are hired as a financial analyst, the expected duties of “financial analyst” should be given. This helps prevent disputes later if you are given accounting chores or payroll duties.

Probation, Review, and Termination

North Carolina, like most states, is an “at-will” state. This means that all employment is “at the will” of the employer and the employee. The employer may terminate the employee for no cause with no notice, and the employee may quit for no cause with no notice unless there is a contract or law that states otherwise.

If a union or collective bargaining agreement does not protect you, it may be possible to put a requirement for disciplinary actions before termination in your contract. For that, you need to consult an employment attorney.

Why Do I Need an Employment Agreement?

Many freelancers and contract workers have gone years without a formal employment contract and may wonder why they need one. The primary reason is protection in a contract dispute. Whenever there is a disagreement or uncertainty about an issue, courts and arbitrators are legally required to look only at the “four corners of the contract.” Anything agreed to orally or in other documents cannot be considered as evidence.

Another good reason is to monitor your progression in the company. The original contract provides a baseline for your pay rate, duties, and other employment information. When it is time for renewal or promotion, or if you decide to leave the company, the agreement is a helpful tool for building a new agreement.

When Do I Need an Employment Attorney?

Whenever you sign any agreement, you have the legal right to have it reviewed by an attorney. You should always do so, even if you trust the other party. Employment attorneys help ensure you didn’t miss anything and that nothing was changed from your original understanding of the agreement.

At Hammer Law PLLC, we specialize in helping new and current employees get the expected employment agreements. No matter your employment level, we are here to make your agreement the best possible one for you.

Contact us on our website for an appointment and consultation. Your job is worth the time and effort.

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