Employment Agreements: What To Focus On While Negotiating

Employment agreements, or contracts, allow companies to work out terms with workers before hiring them. Often employees receive these contracts when they are only going to work for businesses for certain periods of time. Contractors who develop a product, such as an invention or written work, for companies may also be asked to sign an employment agreement. Not all employees need to sign contracts, but those who do should closely examine and negotiate the terms of their contracts so that they benefit the companies and workers.

Duration and Stipulations

Before starting with a companies, workers should make sure companies define their titles and job descriptions clearly within the employment contracts. This can ensure that both parties have a clear understanding of the tasks expected of the employee. Job candidates also want to look closely for stipulations related to moonlighting. If they already work in other jobs, they may want to renegotiate their contracts with provisions that allow them to continue in their own positions.

Employment Agreements: What To Focus On While Negotiating

Salary and Benefits

Many employment contracts outline specific hourly or salary wages, depending on the type of workers hired. Job candidates should try to renegotiate salary terms if they aren’t satisfied because wage amounts outlined in contracts often don’t change. Some contracts do offer quarterly or annual bonuses or raises. Workers may have to ask to have raises included within their contracts.

Employment agreements may also outline information on healthcare, medical, life insurance dental, vision, retirement and stock option benefits. Employees should pay close attention to provisions on costs associated with and stipulations for using these benefits. If employees want to renegotiate for more or better benefits, they should think in the long-term. Companies may be willing to offer extended benefit packages if they are competing with other businesses for certain candidates.

Workers should also look closely for any sections on use of company resources, such as phones or cars, and reimbursement for expenses such as gas and supplies. If they have certain expectations for being paid back for costs, they may need to talk with their new employers about additions to their contracts.

Non-competition Clause

Many employment contracts use non-competition clauses to keep employees from working for other companies in their industries. This stipulation is meant to keep workers from using their knowledge and skills for similar projects. These clauses may only be in effect during the duration or extend into the period following employment with a company. Workers need to be aware of the terms of these clauses when deciding whether to sign contracts. They may want to work for another company in their field after they finish with a company, so non-competition clauses could be detrimental to their future opportunities. Companies will often offer benefits, such as bonuses or benefits, to entice employees to sign non-competition clauses. Employees should make sure that the offer is worth their adherence to these policies before signing or work out other terms if the benefits offered do not meet their expectations.

Property Ownership

Job candidates should look closely at employment contracts for stipulations on ownership of creative ideas and products. Under these clauses, their employees may retain partial or full rights to their written works, inventions, photographs or other products after their contracts ends. Contractors often retain copyright privileges to works created under work-for-hire agreements unless their products become part of larger works, such as anthologies or films. Before signing contracts, employees should be aware of what rights they have to their work, especially if they plan to use it in portfolios, presentations or other projects. They may be able to renegotiate employment agreements to retain limited or full rights over their work.

Employment contracts can be beneficial to businesses and their employees, as long as both sides understand and agree to the terms and stipulations. Job candidates should not sign contracts without reading them over carefully and getting clarification on any portions that are confusing or unclear. Going in with a strong understanding of what they are agreeing to can allow workers to avoid any issues later. Employment agreements can also be a good way for workers to negotiate terms before they start. By working out details of their contracts, employees can go into their jobs ready to focus on their work.

Informational Credit to Carter West