Should I Have a Lawyer Review My Employment Agreement Before I Sign?

You’ve received a job offer and have been sent an employment agreement to sign. Maybe you’ve been offered a tenure-track teaching position, a role in corporate management, or a position leading a team of physicians at a local hospital. Achieving career advancement is exciting, but it’s also important to approach your new job offer with a level head. It’s in your best interest to hire a lawyer to review it with you before you sign.

Is it in the employment agreement?

Reviewing your employment agreement with an attorney will ensure that the terms discussed before the offer was made are in the contract as you initially understood them. For example, if you were offered stock options based upon performance, a lawyer can review the benchmarks that you will need to meet to receive that benefit according to what is outlined in the agreement.

Medical benefits and healthcare are enormous costs for both employers and workers. Did you discuss what your share of premium costs would be, or any additional healthcare benefit beyond standard coverage? These items should be detailed in your employment agreement as well.

Salary, benefits, bonuses, equity, opportunities for professional development, and any other form of compensation you’ve been offered should be included in the employment agreement. An attorney can help you ensure everything you were promised is there in writing.

Job title and description

During the interview process, you likely discussed the specifics of the position and what would be expected of you if you were hired. In some cases, the employer may not have gone into specific detail regarding the job and the role you will be asked to play. The employment agreement formalizes your job title and description. It is to your benefit to have an attorney review these responsibilities so you can evaluate if you are being fairly compensated and if the role you are accepting meets your expectations.

Is there a non-compete agreement included?

A non-compete clause may be appropriate depending on your industry and job title. Even if you have never worked for a company that uses non-compete agreements, it is wise to check your employment agreement to see if it is included. In New Hampshire, there are laws regulating non-compete agreements. Having an attorney review your contract helps ensure that it is legal and helps you understand your obligations before you sign.

Leaving your job and termination of employment

Your new employer may require you to provide extended notice before leaving or retiring. While this might not seem relevant today, it could be important if you decide to move on or retire by a certain date. The employment agreement should also note whether you can be terminated without cause, which some people refer to as termination at will, or if you can only be terminated for cause, such as failure to show up for work, not performing certain job requirements, or inappropriate behavior.

Protecting your best interests

Employers often write employment agreements—or hire attorneys to do it—aiming to protect the interests of the company or organization. It makes sense for new employees to also have someone on their side. An attorney can not only review the legal elements of the agreement, but can also explain more complicated aspects in layman’s terms. Signing an employment agreement that does not meet your expectations can lead to an unsatisfying work environment or unpleasant circumstances at the end of employment.

The employment law attorneys at Upton & Hatfield have extensive experience reviewing employee agreements, as well as fighting non-compete agreements and other unfair work practices. If you are interested in learning more about the employment law group, contact us today.

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