You Want Me To Sign What?

Jan 15, 2016

The big moment has arrived. You have gone through a series of grinding interviews and you’ve survived. Your potential employer slides a slip of paper with a number on it for more money than you’ve ever made before. You keep your cool – hoping not to let on that you feel like you just won the lottery.

“I’ll take some time to consider this offer over the weekend and get back to you,” you say coolly.

“No problem,” says your new boss. “Then we’ll get you in touch with legal to go over the terms of your contract.

On Monday morning you agree on the terms of your compensation and are presented with your first employment contract. Among other things, it includes what the terms of your severance will be if you are fired, what determines being fired for cause, where you can work when your employment ends, the moving expenses you’ll have to repay if you leave to soon, and the fact that the work product you develop are the sole property of your employer. You sign the agreement without much thought. But as the days and weeks go by you begin to wonder…did I do the right thing?

Maybe you did. If all goes well, you’ll get the salary you never dreamed you had and will one day retire from your new employer to your idyllic beach house.

But then again…maybe you didn’t. You have now bound yourself to the terms of your employment agreement and if you don’t comply with those terms it could impact your financial future by limiting your ability to get a job in your area or limiting your severance in a layoff. While it is unlikely that you had a choice about signing an employment contract at all if you wanted the job, you may have had a choice about some of the provisions that were included in that contract. Read your employment agreement carefully, ask lots of questions, and if you think you don’t understand it, contact an attorney who is experienced in employment law.

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