Some positions are considered to be contract jobs, which means that their terms are spelled out in an employment contract and signed by both the employer and the employee before any actual work begins. These kinds of jobs are often those associated with employment agencies and independent contracting work. There are certain protections, regulations, and requirements for contracted employees that do not exist for non-contracted employees. Generally, these contracts are written to define the work to be done and its time frame.
The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries is the state-run agency that handles all employment-related cases in the state and enforces laws such as Title 49 RCW, Washington’s set of employment laws.
Writing an Employment Contract
An employment contract should include all the terms of the job and expectations for both the employee and the company. The following terms are present in most employment contracts:
- The job’s duration;
- The employee’s responsibilities as an employee of the company;
- Reasons why the employer may terminate the employee;
- Vacation time, healthcare coverage, sick days, and any other benefits that come with the position;
- Requirements for the employee to protect any trade secrets while and after he or she is employed with the company;
- A non-compete clause for the employee;
- Dispute resolution methods that the company will use if any disagreements between the two parties arise;
- The ownership of any documents or other items created by the employee during his or her time with the company; and
- Whether or not the position is considered to be an at-will position.
This final bullet touches on an important point in employment law: at-will employment. Washington is an at-will employment state, which means that under most circumstances, an employee may leave his or her job at any time without notice, without fear of retaliation from the company. Similarly, the company may terminate an employee at any given time without notice as long as the termination isn’t done illegally, such as following a discrimination claim or because the employee refused to violate public policy. An employment contract may state the reasons why an employee may be terminated as well as repercussions for leaving the position without finishing his or her duties.
Every position won’t necessarily include all of the points listed above. Certain jobs might have more requirements and thus have additional terms. If you are ever unsure of the meaning of the terms listed in an employment contract, discuss the contract with your employer. Always know exactly what you are agreeing to before you sign it.
Employment Attorneys Can Help
Before you sign a new employment contract, be sure to review its terms with a trusted, experienced employment attorney. Employment contracts can be long and confusing and contain unfair or exploitative terms within their language. Your signature on an employment contract indicates that you consent to all of its terms. Before giving this consent, call HKM Employment Attorneys LLP at 206-838-2504 to have a knowledgeable employment attorney look over your proposed contract and, if it could be rewritten in a more favorable manner, help you draft a new version to resubmit to your employer.