The Chicago Employment Law Blog

How to Deal With Your New Employment Contract

More and more new hires are asked to sign an employment contract when they join a company.

Employment agreements can be written contracts, or they can be verbal promises or provisions made in an employee handbook or company policy. Generally, you will want your contract in written form.

Employment contracts are enforceable, and you will want to make sure that everything promised to you at your interview is contained in the contract. In addition, you will want to make sure that there are no surprises.

When reviewing your contract, keep the following three questions in mind:

1. Is This What You Agreed To?

An employment contract can cover many topics aside from your salary. For example, the contract may stipulate that you are an at-will employee who can be fired at any time for any reason, or the contract may limit the circumstances for termination.

In addition, contracts can address:

  • Health benefits,
  • Vacation and sick leave,
  • Grievance procedures, and
  • Other perks and benefits.

2. Are There Any Ambiguous Terms?

If you are unsure what some provisions mean like non-compete clauses, confidentiality provisions, and ownership rights over your work, you should have the employer clarify before signing.

Employment contracts can be very harsh and can limit your employment opportunities should you leave the company. You will want to make sure that you understand what you are getting into before signing.

3. Should You Get a Lawyer to Review the Contract?

Your employment contract can have long-lasting repercussions. As a result, you will want a professional set of eyes to review the agreement for you. One option is to hire a lawyer to look over your contract.

Another option is to sign up for an affordable personal legal plan like those offered by LegalStreet. With a LegalStreet plan, which averages out to less than $13 a month, you can get a lawyer to review any document you like (up to 10 pages each). You also get unlimited phone consultations with local attorneys, and discounted rates if you need to hire one to represent you in court.

Getting a new employment contract can be exciting, but it can also create confusion as you try to decipher all the legal fine print. Keep these questions in mind before you sign on the dotted line, to make sure your rights are protected.

(Disclaimer: LegalStreet and FindLaw.com are owned by the same company.)

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