Employment Contract Attorney
Employers and employees can explicitly agree on certain terms of employment by entering into a written or oral employment contract. In theory both oral and written agreement are equally enforceable, but oral agreements are much harder to prove. Some terms of employment cannot be changed while others are a matter of negotiation between the employer and employee. Typically, the higher paid, more skilled, and crucial the employee, the more likely that one or both parties will insist on a written employment contract.
The terms of an employment contract typically include:
- Position for which the employee is being hired and job responsibilities
- Compensation including salary, bonus, health insurance, vacation and sick time, disability leave, and retirement benefits.
- Whether the job is “at will” meaning terminable at will at any time or for a fixed duration
- Grounds for termination, amount of advance notice required for termination, and any severance due to employee for no-fault termination
- Ownership of employee’s work product (e.g. inventions)
- Protection of employer’s trade secrets and customer lists
- Confidentiality of sensitive employer information
- Limitations on employee’s ability to compete with employer post termination
- Prohibition on “poaching” other employees post termination
- Method of resolving disputes (mediation, arbitration, litigation)
Advantages and Disadvantage of Written Employment Contracts
Written employment contracts can be beneficial to both employers and employees because they clarify the main employment terms reducing the chances of future disagreement, and, if a disagreement arises, are persuasive evidence of the agreed upon employment terms. A written agreement is especially valuable for an employer who is hiring a highly skilled employee and wants to set rules about the standard of employee’s performance, amount of notice the employee is required to give before quitting, to assure that all work product generated by the employee belongs to the employer, and to limit the employee from hurting the employer’s business following termination. Obviously an advantage to the employer is a disadvantage to the employee and vice versa. From the employee’s standpoint, the written agreement may provide some security by detailing compensation and work benefits, and sometimes providing for employment for a specific term or no termination except for cause.
Regardless of whether there is a formal employment agreement encompassing all of the terms of employment, employers typically ask employees to sign short documents acknowledging that the employee is “at-will”. “At-will” means that the employee can be terminated from employment or quit at any time and for any reason. Such “at-will” acknowledgments by employees help avoid future claims by the employee who may try to argue that he or she was promised work for a fixed period of time or not to be terminated except for good cause.
Employment Contract Lawyer in San Francisco / California Bay Area
Whether you are an employer who wishes to draft an employment contract, or an employee who has been given an employment contract to sign, it is in your best interest to consult a knowledgeable attorney. The Zurada Law Firm has drafted numerous employment contracts, litigated various issues involving such contracts, and stands ready to assist you. You first consultation with us is always FREE.