Are you thinking about hiring an employee for your business, and are wondering whether you should have the new employee sign a contract? Or have you recently accepted a job, and have been asked to sign an employment agreement? If so, you may be wondering how having such an agreement in place can benefit you.
An employment agreement is a written agreement between an employer and an employee that lays out the terms of employment. Although employers are not required to have employees sign such documents, it is often a good idea to have a written employment agreement in order to protect both sides.
Why an Employment Agreement Should be Signed
Often, there is no signed employment contract. Instead, the agreement is implied, through verbal statements, actions taken by employer or employee, company handbooks, or policies adopted during the employment period. However, a signed contract clarifies these implied agreements, and can protect both sides in the event of termination or a dispute.
Terms Included in the Agreement
An employment agreement will typically begin with listing the start date and salary of the position, along with health benefits, vacation and sick leave, and other benefits. The agreement also includes employee grievance procedures (such as arbitration), and a termination clause. Usually, it states that either party may terminate the employment contract for any reason. It may require no notice from either party or may set out a required notice period, such as two’ weeks notice. Finally, an employment agreement may restrict employees or ex-employees from certain activities; these can include a confidentiality agreement or non-compete agreement; Florida companies may find such terms necessary to protect their business.
Employment Agreements in At-Will States
Most states are ‘at will’ states, meaning that an employee can be terminated at any time, for almost any reason (barring certain reasons such as discrimination). A signed employment agreement does not necessarily create a contract that restricts an employer’s right to fire an employee or restrict the employee from leaving voluntarily at any time. Although an employment agreement can require a notice period before the contract is terminated by either party, it is not required to do so. However, many employers find it advantageous to require two weeks’ notice from either party, in order to prevent the disruption caused by the sudden departure of an employee.
Drafting an agreement to protect both sides
If you are considering entering into a written employment agreement or want to learn more about your rights, consult with an employment law attorney. A lawyer can help you draft the terms of a written employment agreement in accordance with your state’s laws.