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An employment agreement is a written contract that establishes the terms, conditions, and obligations of employment between an employer and an employee. An employment agreement may be oral or written. The terms can be reached through a verbal contract, though it is generally best practice to reduce the terms of employment to writing. The contract outlines both parties' rights and responsibilities and serves as a framework for the employment relationship. The employment agreement normally includes several conditions, which may differ based on the job's nature and the employer's and employee's unique needs. Let’s discuss more about it in the blog below.

Essential Components of the Employment Agreement

An employment agreement normally comprises several components that explain the terms and circumstances of an employer's and employee's employment relationship. The components may differ based on the nature of the work, industry, and local legislation. It is important to consult with a lawyer to ensure that the employment agreement - whether written or verbal - complies with state and federal law applicable to the employer. However, the following are some standard components found in employment contracts:

  • Parties: The agreement defines the parties involved, including the legal name, address, and contact information of the employer, as well as the employee's name, address, and other essential information.
  • Job Title and Explanation: The employee's job title, department, and a full explanation of their tasks and responsibilities are all included in the contract. It clarifies the scope of work anticipated by the employee.
  • Salary: This section describes the employee's pay plan, which includes basic salary, bonuses, commissions, and any other types of income. It may also address payment frequency, such as monthly, bimonthly, or weekly, as well as any compensation modifications or raises that may be appropriate. There are usually specific laws within a state that govern how much and how often an employee must be paid, and it is critical to speak with an employment lawyer for clarity if not already known to the employer.
  • Working Hours & Schedule: The agreement specifies the employee's regular working hours, breaks, and rest intervals. It may also handle issues like flexibility, part-time or full-time status, and shift or schedule rotations. These types of benefits are generally governed by applicable labor laws, including the right to overtime, limitations on work schedules, and other regulations.
  • Benefits and Perks: This section describes the employee's right to health insurance, retirement plans, vacation days, sick leave, parental leave, and other perks or allowances the employer grants.
  • Probationary Term: The agreement may include a probationary term during which the employer evaluates the employee's suitability for the position. It describes the probationary period's duration, circumstances, and evaluation criteria.
  • Termination: This section describes the terms and processes for ending the employment relationship, including the notice periods needed by both the employer and the employee. It may encompass dismissal without cause, dismissal with cause, resignation, or severance arrangements.
  • Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure Agreement: Many agreements include language requiring workers to keep private or sensitive corporate information, trade secrets, customer data, or intellectual property confidential during and after employment.
  • Intellectual Property Protection: In sectors where employees develop intellectual property while working, the agreement may cover ownership, usage, and protection of such intellectual property. It assures that any work-related ideas, innovations, or creations belong to the employer, protecting valuable assets and averting ownership conflicts.
  • Non-Competition and Non-Solicitation Terms: Some agreements may include terms that limit an employee's capacity to work for rivals or solicit clients or employees of the employer for a set period after termination. Employers may develop stand-alone non-compete agreements, or they may include non-compete terms within the employment agreement.
  • Dispute Resolution: The processes for settling disagreements between the employer and the employee, such as mediation, arbitration, or litigation, are specified in this component. It may also specify the appropriate jurisdiction, called a choice of venue provision, and the applicable law, called a choice of law provision.

Types of Employment Agreements

Here are some examples of employment agreements:

  • Permanent Employment Agreement: This is the most prevalent form of employment agreement. It establishes a continuing job relationship with no set expiration date. It includes the terms and circumstances of employment, such as work tasks, remuneration, benefits, and termination restrictions.
  • Fixed-Term Agreement: This agreement is utilized when employment is for a specific time or a project. It specifies the start and end dates of the work connection. Fixed-term contracts are frequently utilized for seasonal employment, temporary roles, or when additional personnel is required for a set period. Fixed-term agreements may have legal limitations in some jurisdictions, and employers should be aware of any restrictions on the use of such contracts.
  • Part-Time or Reduced-Hours Agreement: This agreement is used when an employee works fewer hours than a full-time employee. It outlines the agreed-upon amount of hours, work schedule, and prorated benefits. Part-time contracts are widely utilized for employees who choose or require a reduced workload or roles that do not require a full-time commitment.
  • Casual or Zero-Hour Agreement: This agreement is distinguished by the absence of fixed minimum hours. Employees on casual or zero-hour contracts have a flexible working schedule and are often called in as required. They may not have regular working hours and are frequently ineligible for certain perks connected with permanent or fixed-term contracts. However, the eligibility of casual or zero-hour employees for benefits can vary depending on local laws and regulations, as some jurisdictions may require employers to provide certain benefits to casual or zero-hour employees.
  • Freelance or Independent Contractor Agreement : People can be hired as freelancers or independent contractors under an agreement instead of becoming an employee. These contracts specify the scope of work, deliverables, payment arrangements, and length of the engagement. Freelancers often have greater control and freedom in how they perform their tasks.
  • Probationary Agreement: This agreement is used when an employer wishes to examine an employee's performance and suitability for a job during a probationary term. It often contains a shorter notice time for termination and may include particular performance standards or goals that the employee must fulfill to obtain permanent employment.
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Benefits of the Employment Agreement

The following are the benefits of an employment agreement:

  • Clarity and Consistency: Employment agreements give a clear and full knowledge of the terms and conditions of employment. They define employment expectations, duties, and performance criteria, eliminating misconceptions and fostering organizational uniformity.
  • Job Security: Agreement that stipulates the length of employment, termination circumstances, and notice periods to provide employees with job security. They create a framework for fair and legitimate termination, safeguarding employees against arbitrary dismissals.
  • Defined Monetary Terms: The employment agreement details the employee's remuneration package, which includes salary, bonuses, perks, and entitlements. This ensures that employees are informed of their financial incentives and helps to prevent compensation conflicts.
  • Work-Life Balance: The employment agreement can cover working hours, leave entitlements, and other work-life balance factors. Contracts that explicitly outline these requirements promote a healthy work-life balance for employees, increasing overall well-being.
  • Career Development: The employment agreement may include training, professional development, and career promotion provisions. This displays the employer's commitment to employee growth and offers a framework for career advancement.

Key Terms for Employment Agreements

  • Compensation: Indicate the employee's salary or hourly rate, any bonuses, the structure of their commissions, and any additional payment types.
  • Benefits: Describe the range of amenities available to employees, such as health insurance, retirement plans, etc., and other perks like free meals or transportation given by the employer.
  • Termination and Severance: Describe the circumstances under which either party may terminate the employment, including any applicable notice requirements, grounds for termination, and any severance benefits or pay.
  • Probationary Period: The amount of time, if any, that must pass before the employer can decide if the employee is qualified for the job.

Final Thoughts on Employment Agreements

Employment agreements are generally necessary to establish a mutually beneficial connection between employers and employees. They function as a formal agreement outlining the terms and circumstances of employment, protecting both parties rights and interests. Employers may develop agreements encouraging fairness, transparency, and legal compliance by considering several elements, such as legal compliance, clarity of wording, and complete coverage of essential terms. Seeking legal counsel and reviewing industry-specific standards can assist in ensuring that agreements are in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. While counsel is not always required, depending on the size of the business, it often a good idea to speak with an employment attorney periodically to ensure compliance. Employers may provide a firm basis for a successful and joyful working relationship by developing well-crafted employment contracts that promote productivity, loyalty, and mutual pleasure.

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Labor

Employment Agreement

Illinois

Asked on May 27, 2022

Non payment

I worked for a start up with a promised to pay a specified amount for my services backed by emails and documentation. The company is growing with 8 + employees but communication on when I will be paid has basically stopped. They now have 8 plus employees. Suggestions on how to get payment? I am in Washington State company is in Virginia

Donya G.

Answered Jun 3, 2022

My suggestion is to request an employment agreement that outlines your role, responsibility and payment. If that doesn't work, draft your own agreement and ask them to sign your document. Last resort, hire a lawyer to talk to them about your missing payment. All the best. If you need additional resource, you can find me on the Contracts Counsel website. Donya Gordon

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Business Contracts

Employment Agreement

New York

Asked on Feb 9, 2022

Contract Review

I have a contract between myself and my employer. Does it need to be reviewed to see if I can legally get out of it. In addition, I need to know if this contract is transferable in the event the practice gets sold?

Matthew S.

Answered Feb 11, 2022

To answer your questions, someone is going to need to look at your contract. I can review your contract. The cost will vary depending on the size of the document. I will charge you 250 dollars to review a two-page contract, that will include a memorandum discussing various issues I discover, as well as any questions you raise. There will be an additional $25 per page, after that. Please feel free to contact me through Contracts Counsel, if you have any questions.

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Employment

Employment Agreement

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Asked on Nov 3, 2021

Breach of contract?

I’m a nurse practitioner currently employees under a contract in which I was suppose to receive a bonus paid out 30 days after a 12 month period. One week after the 30 days has passed, the Bonus has not been paid. This is consider breach of contract, correct? the contract stipulates I must give 30 days notice prior to quitting. Does this still apply if he is in breach?

Diane D.

Answered Nov 12, 2021

Have you asked about receiving the promised bonus? It may just be late. I would talk to the employer before quitting. And, yes, you must still give the 30 days' notice or you will be in breach. Also, realize, if you quit you may not be entitled to the bonus. I would have to see the contract you signed to actually know what you are entitled to or not.

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Asked on Nov 30, 2021

Are non-competes enforceable in California?

I live in CA and work for an east coast company. I have an old employment agreement from ~2006 that has a non-compete clause. Is that enforceable in CA?

Paul S.

Answered Dec 3, 2021

No, it's not. California has a very strict law against non-competes, and views those as illegal restraints on trade. Pretty much the only scenario in which a non-compete will be enforceable in California is in connection with the sale of a business.

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Asked on Aug 22, 2022

What is the minimum hours an employer can schedule an hourly part time employee in retail in New York state?

I work for Dollar Tree in New York state, I thought that the minimum shift that could be scheduled was 4 hours, however the manager is scheduling 3 hour shifts for myself and others.

Jane C.

Answered Aug 23, 2022

Please review the Department of Labor website https://dol.ny.gov/wages-and-hours-frequently-asked-questions

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