When you begin a new job, you may be asked to sign an employment contract. While not all jobs require such a contract, typically more specialized positions, such as independent contracting or employment agency-placed positions, do. With an employment contract, the employee is bound to certain standards, such as completing projects during a specified time frame. Many employment contracts also protect the employee by laying out specifics for termination so that the employee cannot be fired unless he or she violate these stipulations of the contract.
Understanding Your Employment Contract
While some contracts have terms of termination, other contracts may not have stipulations regarding termination, and may underline the “at-will” aspect of the employee’s position, meaning that the employer can fire the employee at any time for any reason, aside from reasons of discrimination. Missouri is an at-will state, and unless otherwise stated in a contract, an employer can terminate an employee for any reason whenever they so choose. Even worse, your employment contract may misclassify you as an independent contractor, for your employer’s purposes of financial savings, when in fact you should be considered an employee of the company, and therefore entitled to workers’ compensation, health insurance, tax contributions, unemployment, and other benefits, according to the Missouri Department of Labor. According to the Economic Policy Institute, between 10 and 20% of employers misclassify one or more employees as independent contractors. It is important to understand the employment contract that you are being asked to sign, and to talk to an attorney before you do so. We understand that you are eager to begin your new job and do not want to give your potential new employer any reason to not hire you, but signing an unfair or unlawful contract could have serious ramifications for you in the future.
The Basics of an Employment Contract
Employment contracts are written specifically for each individual employee, so even if a future co-worker has happily signed a contract, that does not mean that your contract is right for you. Employment contracts typically have some or all of the following information:
- Duration of the job;
- Reasons for termination;
- Whether the job is at-will;
- The employee’s responsibilities;
- Benefits, such as sick days, health care, vacation, 401K savings, and more;
- Trade secret protection or non-compete clauses upon leaving the job;
- Preferred or required conflict resolutions methods between the employee and employer; and
- The employee’s ownership of documents and other items after leaving the job.
Call a St. Louis, Missouri Employment Attorney Today for Help
Whether you are being asked to sign an exploitive employment contract, have questions regarding a contract that you have just signed or are about to sign, have been discriminated against by your employer, or your employment contract has suffered a breach, you need to contact an attorney. We encourage you to contact an experienced lawyer at HKM Employment Attorneys to answer any of your questions and to help resolve potential disputes in your favor. Call us today.