You’ve just been offered your dream job, and the organization has handed you a contract that must be signed if you want the job. Should you sign? Only after you have it reviewed by an Employment Lawyer. Otherwise, you may be signing away significant rights.
Contrary to popular belief, every employee in Canada has a contract. However, most are verbal, with a number of “implied terms”. Whatever form the agreement takes, it sets out the fundamental terms of your relationship. It is not just a formality.
Employers are becoming more aggressive in their use of contracts. If an organization wants you to sign an agreement, it is usually because they have something to gain.
It is crucial that you review all of the terms with an Employment Lawyer. You need to understand what you are giving up before you agree. Failing to do so will undoubtedly come back to haunt you later on. Unfortunately, it is all too common for us to meet with an individual who has recently been dismissed and is baffled by the minimal severance they have been offered, and we have the unfortunate duty of advising them that this is because of the contract they agreed to when they were hired.
It is also crucial that you consider what is in the contract, and that the contract is consistent with verbal discussions and with your expectations. If you are expecting a bonus, certain compensation, the ability to work at home, or anything else, ensure that is confirmed in the contract. This is particularly important because most contracts include an “entire agreement” clause which means that unless it is stated in the contract, it is not part of your agreement – any other discussions or agreements are meaningless. Even if you have a separate email message confirming a signing bonus, or that you can work from home two days each week, you will probably not be able to enforce it.
Having a trusted and experienced Employment Lawyer review the language of your employment contract prior to agreeing to it is a critical step in protecting your rights, particularly if you are being lured away from your previous organization, or if you have been provided with a contract containing extensive terms and conditions.
How We Can Help
Our lawyers have reviewed countless and varied contractual agreements, and we will provide you with advice based on this experience. We will:
- review all the terms of your contact, even some that may outlast your term of employment, such as non-competition and non-solicitation clauses,
- make sure you understand them, and
- help you understand the consequences of each one.
We will then work with you to develop an effective strategy for negotiating any terms that you should not accept. At the end of the day, you will either end up with a better contract, understand enough to reject a bad contract, or at the very least, enter into a contract knowing the impact on your legal rights.