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Why you should get advice before you sign an employment contract.

22 Apr 2022

1 min read

22 Apr 2022

Many employment contracts contain restrictions on employees during and post their employment. It is important to understand what your obligations are and check if they are fair and suitable.

Many employment contracts contain clauses that restrict employees during or after their employment. This can include working for competitors, talking to clients or working within certain areas after they leave.

Employees should get their employment contract reviewed by an experienced employment lawyer. This will to help protect employees from signing an agreement that unnecessarily restricts or negatively affects them. It is essential to understand any restrictions and the terms of the employment contract. This will help alleviate any issues or future problems.

Terms such as territory, restraints of trade, commissions and bonus structures all should be carefully considered.

Negotiating YOUR employment agreement?

Just because something is in your contract doesn’t mean it’s in your best interest to agree to it. Employees should try and retain as many rights and opportunities as they can.

There may be a number of reasons why you would want to negotiate terms with your employer. Especially if their agreement isn’t fair or the terms are not suitable. Sometimes it can be that the agreement you have negotiated needs to be accurately reflected in the agreement.

Contracts typically detail items such as the position title and salary as well as other terms and conditions of employment. They can also include clauses that restrict an employee’s rights. This is no surprise considering that the employer has drafted the agreement and will primarily protect them.

The basics of your employment agreement are usually discussed, either in a formal or informal job interview. Sometime a recruiter may be a part of the negotiation process too. It is important to confirm terms and offers in writing along the way. It may help to ensure that when there is a disagreement later, you have something in writing to refer to.

In some instances, the terms presented in the employment agreement are different to what you may have discussed. It’s important to be aware of the terms and conditions as they could cause problems for you in the future.

Employment contracts are binding agreements. You may be asked to sign an agreement that is not exactly what you have discussed. One of our employment lawyers can help you by suggesting ways to address the issues.

How Does an employment lawyer help with an employment contract?

Your lawyer can explain your rights and duties under the contract. They also ensure that the agreement is comprehensive and accurate.

It is important to be aware of the terms and conditions before you sign an employment contract. As employment lawyers review many contracts, we understand the law and what most agreements contain. We can quickly identify clauses that may be overreaching or too onerous.

Drafting Employment Agreements & Clauses

Lawyers make sure your contract of employment accurately reflects your terms of employment and includes all the benefits you were offered.

If your company is offering bonuses, equity, stock options or other benefits. It is important to understand what you are being offered and how this is being remunerated. The agreement should clearly outline what the arrangement is and the basis for the calculation.

If terms are clearly drafted, it is less likely that a dispute will arise between you and your employer. The terms may seem less important when entering a contract, but when an issue arises the details will matter.

Experienced employment lawyers have extensive understanding and practice in drafting and resolving employment disputes. Poorly drafted agreements are more open to litigation as they are often ambiguous.

We can request amendments and alternative wording sensitively and with consideration so it doesn’t impact your position.

Employees often feel that they have the underhand in these negotiations. However, being upfront during negotiations is just a part of the employee/employer relationship.

Non-standard employment agreements.

Many employment contracts are non-standard contracts. In Australia most employees are covered by the National Employment Standards (NES). The NES standards cannot be done away with or negated by any agreement or employment contract.

However, many workers including tradespeople, professionals and executive employees will have many other types of conditions or considerations.

We recommend that you seek independent legal advice before signing an employment contract if:

  • you want to negotiate the terms of the contract
  • there are territory or restrictions post-employment
  • you consider that the contract is unfair or unreasonable
  • there are other business interests you have

Experienced employment lawyers will advise you on what is typical in employment contracts and what is not.

What to consider when working for multiple employers or in multiple businesses.

If you are working in multiple jobs, or as a consultant, you will want to check that this is allowed under your agreement as a subcontractor or employee. These are often considerations for sales representatives and executives as there may be a conflict of interest in certain situations. Working for multiple employers can lead to conflicts that may impact an employee’s ability to do their job effectively.

Following termination of employment, certain employers will limit what other occupations and interests you can have and how remuneration and commissions are paid.

It is common for disputes to arise over bonuses and commissions after an employee has resigned or been terminated.

The best way to ensure you are unfettered is to get advice before you sign your employment agreement.

If you are considering a new role it is important to take the time to ensure that the agreement is comprehensive. You will want to ensure that your future opportunities are not unnecessarily compromised either.

At PCL Lawyers, we have helped many employees with advice on employment law, agreements and a variety of other employment disputes.

Contact one of our employment lawyers on 1300 907 335 or complete an online form and we will respond promptly.

Providing clients with the best possible service and advice.

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