Defining the Written Employee Contract

There are times when an employee is asked to sign a written employee contract. Before we can discuss when you should and should not consider agreeing to sign such a document, it’s important that we clearly agree on an exact definition.

What is a Written Employee Contract?

A written employee contract is a document provided (typically during the hiring process) to set forth terms of the relationship between the employer the employee. Both you and the employer sign the document. Entering into a written contract is not necessary with every position. Actually, use of the written employee contract is an exception to the normal practice during the hiring process – not the rule. But it is important to know what this particular type of document entails so that you can better understand when it might be appropriate or even possibly advantageous to agree to sign on the dotted line.

What is Included in a Written Employee Contract?

The written employee contract will clearly state the employee’s job description. It will also clearly state the agreed upon salary. In addition to this other items related to the employment relationship can be specified including: the length of the job (1 month, 2 years, indefinite, etc.), additional information regarding the employee’s responsibilities on the job, limitations on employee activity once the job is complete in order to avoid competition, protection of the company’s trade secrets/client lists, specified grounds for termination, additional benefits (vacation, disability leave, health benefits, etc.), ownership rights of employee’s work during the duration of the contract, methods agreed upon for resolution of any disputes arising as a result of the employment relationship, etc.

The written employee contract isn’t just one more piece of paperwork dragging the hiring process out. In some instances, it can be a vital element that protects both the employer and the employee from negative situations that could damage team morale, employer/employee relations, your ability to successfully complete the job at hand or your opportunity to fully enjoy the full extent of benefits that were promised during the hiring process.

Find out more about the advantages and disadvantages of signing a written employee contract in upcoming articles here on the Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik blog or get in touch today to talk to a legal expert on employment law. 

The Advantages of the Written Employee Contract

Many employees have never heard of the written employee contract. You might see it as an unnecessary annoyance mucking up the hiring process. Others have worked in fields or amongst employers who have utilized the written employee contract for all new employees.  They may see it merely as a formality observed almost ritualistically or there may be clear and obvious reasons that make it necessary. Today we’ll look at the actual advantages of signing a written employee contract.

What are the Benefits of a Written Employee Contract?

Entering into an employment contract during the hiring process is not always necessary. As mentioned in the previous article defining the written employee contract, it is actually an exception to the rule rather than a basic procedure required for every employee. But there are certain advantages that should be considered.

Employment Contracts are Useful if:          

1. You are a contractor or temporary hire handing a special project. The written employee contract can clearly specify terms of employment that can provide you with a written guarantee that you will have the opportunity to continue your work through project completion without fear of dedicating time, energy & expertise to an endeavor that will be handed off to someone else when the end is in sight.

2. You want to protect confidential and/or sensitive information regarding your business or business practices. Confidentiality clauses can be inserted into written employment contracts to protect trade secrets that the employee brings to the table. This can be important for employees who want to protect their life’s work while also joining in on group projects in their field.

3. You want job security. The written employment contract can offer job security and clearly agreed upon beneficial terms of employment.

4. You desire greater control over your employment status. Standards for performance can be clearly determined and agreed upon in writing – making it clear what is expected and what consequences/rewards will occur in response to given circumstances. The written employee contract removes the need to depend on promises from new employers. It is a written documentation of exactly why you agreed to take the job. 

Watch for the next article in the series outlining the disadvantages of signing a written employee agreement during your hiring process here on the Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik blog or call today to talk to an expert on the legalities of hiring and how to protect your company during the process.