A phone call from an employer letting you know you’ve just been hired is often one of life’s great thrills. This is especially true when the company’s offering good pay, benefits, bonuses and perks— who isn’t excited by the prospect of more money?
But for potential employees handed an employment contract to sign before they are hired, it may pay to keep a lid on the excitement, and play things close to the vest. It might pay to have that employment contracted reviewed by an attorney.
This article was written for professionals curious about the best course of action to take when an employer asks for a signature on an employment contract. If you’ve read any of our articles before, you know there is usually more than one option when deciding whether or not to sign a contract. You also know our most important suggestion is that you contact an attorney.
Keep reading to learn a little about contract review. If you have questions, contact our office to schedule a consultation. Our office handles a wide range of employment law issues including contract review, discrimination, wrongful termination, and hostile work environment.
Want Peace of Mind? Contact an Attorney Before You Sign!
When it comes to signing an employment contract, you have a few options. You can leave the offer on the table and walk away. You can also look the contract over yourself, give the employer the benefit of the doubt, and sign on the line.
But contracts are often filled with dense language that can hide tricky clauses easily overlooked by a person who’s not well versed in employment law. An unwary employee might sign something that will come back to haunt them.
Furthermore, contracts might contain complex salary or wage information that can be affected by the length of time the employee stays with the company—particularly if the employee resigns or is terminated before the completion of the contract. Such language can affect wages, bonuses, pensions, stock options and more.
The best way to have peace of mind about the document you are signing is to speak with a legal professional beforehand.
A Bad Contract Might Tell You A Lot About a New Employer
Employment contracts that bury tricky clauses in complicated legal language can often be telling about the employer you’re thinking about working for. Take for instance non-compete clauses. These contracts are designed to keep employees from working for a competing company should they leave. As you can imagine, such a clause would be very limiting for a salesperson in a specialized field, such as aerospace, or biotechnology. Luckily for California professionals, non-compete clauses are largely unenforceable.
However, this doesn’t stop some California companies from asking employees to sign contracts containing non-compete verbiage. This ploy can be used to scare workers into thinking they don’t have the right to work for another company. This is also the kind of thing an employment attorney looks for. Having an attorney review your contract might help you decide if this is an unscrupulous business that you don’t want to work for.
An Attorney Can Help You Negotiate Better Terms
While you always have the option of proceeding without an attorney, there are instances when an attorney can help you negotiate better terms (i.e. more money, better benefits, perks, etc.). It might even be worth it to you to pay a lawyer something to hear how they would approach the negotiation, the things that he would ask to include or exclude from the contract, and then you can handle it on you own.
Remember, when it comes to the employer-employee dynamic, companies hold most of the power. Many companies are backed by boards of directors, savvy executives, HR departments, and attorneys of their own. Having a lawyer represent you during contract negotiation (or advising from in the background) can mean more bargaining power for you, particularly if your attorney is able to find legal mistakes in the employment contract.
Have Questions? Contract Branigan Robertson’s Office
If you’re thinking about whether or not to sign an employment contract, consider contacting the office of Branigan Robertson first. While our office doesn’t offer free contract review/negotiation, you might find it well worth the time and effort to have an attorney review the terms your employer is offering.
Our office has experience with a wide range of employment issues including contract review and negotiation. Contact Mr. Robertson’s office to schedule a consultation, and find out how he can help.