What You Need to Know Before Signing Employment Documents


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When becoming an employee with a company, it is vital that the employment documents are reviewed carefully by the person as well as a legal professional. Some paperwork could lock the worker or professional into terms he or she is not willing to keep for years, and some conditions restrict the ability to seek additional compensation or employment away from the company.

Documents that require the signature of an employee may be beneficial to retain employment, but many files are restrictive. Some companies have nondisclosure agreements, non-compete documentation and similar paperwork that limits the ability to seek work elsewhere, that could keep the person from speaking about the company or when accruing a client base from taking those clients earned to a personal business. Some paperwork is standard, but it should not have a signature completed unless it is understood. Many individuals sign papers without knowing what they are signing away or what the memo or document says.

Some files may be contained within an employee handbook. Numerous employers expect the individual to sign these documents when going through training or learning about the company. However, it is recommended by a variety of professionals to ensure the forms are examined, reviewed and fully understood before they are signed by anyone. It is possible to get locked into an earned income far below what is expected or proposed initially. Additionally, benefits could be signed away through this act. It is important to have patience and read through each file individually. This could prevent possible disaster and additional restrictions.

Primary Considerations with Employment Documents

One of the important aspects of employment is the at-will versus the fixed employment period. The specifics about at-will permit both the employer and worker to decide that the relationship is not working for any reason. However, this could include termination when it is most disadvantageous for the employee. On the opposite side, a fixed employment period could provide a stability the person needs for various financial reasons. Additional concerns may come from benefits such as stock, insurance, compensation with bonuses and similar items. If there is a problem with finances, the employer may fire the worker before these benefits kick in at any time.

The titles of the job often involve certain responsibilities. These should have details outlined within the employment documents. When the employer expects more than is in these files, the job title and pay should change to compensate. The information contained within the obligations is vital so the worker is aware of everything he or she must perform to retain the career or job and what is anticipated. This could include business trips or travel, projects and ventures and other concerns that require planning. When added obligations appear after these have been outlined explicitly, there could be an issue with the company or the position.

Other Considerations with Employment Documents

The compensation specified in the employment documents must either meet or exceed what has been discussed. This amount is usually what is received, and could remain the same or increase steadily over time based on what these clauses explain. This includes the possibility of benefits or lack of them if they are not described in the paperwork. Any base salary, bonus provisions and similar wording should be exact. Health benefits, sick leave and vacation, stock options and similar concerns must be on paper to legally bind the company to honor the arrangements. Stock options and other equity should be understood by the employee before signing.

Legal agreements such as nondisclosure, non-compete and similar files are often included in these employment documents. The employee needs to read these over and fully understand what is expected of him or her with intellectual property, processes and client lists. If there is any confusion, the individual must ask questions before signing away. Sensitive information that the company does not want disclosed is often included in details for this paperwork. Non-compete documents usually describe keeping the person from stealing clients or taking any business with him or her after he or she no longer works for the company.

Legal Help with Employment Documents

When an employee has been asked with singing paperwork, he or she should contact a lawyer to fully understand certain conditions, terms and clauses. When there is still confusion after asking the employee his or her questions, a legal representative may be needed to fully grasp the information. It is better to hire a lawyer than become stuck into certain conditions.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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