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What are Employment Contracts and Should I Sign One?

Companies are getting back to normal operations after the pandemic and many employers are hiring right now. Employers are looking to fill many positions, and they want to choose qualified candidates. Businesses may be more apt to provide contracts for individuals as a way to make a job more appealing. A well-written contract can be beneficial to both employers and employees. There are some things to know about employment contracts before you make the decision to sign one.

What Does Employment at Will” Mean? 

Wisconsin uses the “at will” doctrine. At-will employment means that employers and employees generally have no particular requirements to remain in a job. An employer has the right to terminate an employee at any time and for any reason. At the same time, employees have no requirement to remain in their job and can quit when they want. There are a few exceptions to this rule:

  • Those who are union members are typically working within the union contract and therefore, both employer and employee must follow these sets of rules.
  • Employees who enter into contracts with employers may no longer be considered “at will” workers. Both parties must abide by the rules contained within the employment agreement.

Types of Employment Contracts

There are many types of employment contracts. The three most common contracts are:

  • Permanent
  • Temporary
  • Freelance or subcontractors

Most commonly, employee contracts are for full time workers.

Contracts may be written, verbal, or implied.

While other forms of contracts can be legally binding, a written contract is the preferred method. An employer may offer an employee specific terms of the agreement and it is best to make sure that these are put in writing. Both parties of a contract must have a meeting of the minds or the contract might not be considered enforceable.

What is Included in an Employment Contract?

Employment contracts specify a number of terms of employment and cover a variety of important topics. Every contract may be unique and explain things such as:

  • Salary
  • Work schedule
  • Medical insurance
  • Dental insurance
  • Paid time off (PTO)
  • Vacation
  • Sick leave
  • Retirement programs
  • Non-compete clauses

Additionally, the employment contract may also spell out protections and limitations. The document might also provide a procedure to use in resolving disputes. The more thorough the contract the better, because you should address all the potential matters that might arise during the duration of employment. The contract should be as clear and concise as possible so that both parties have the same understanding.

Employers and employees can benefit from legal guidance before they sign a contract. The contract should provide both benefits and responsibilities for both parties. Potential employees should know that they have the right to ask for changes to a contract before they agree to sign it. Once a contract is in place, both parties must abide by the contents of the document.

If you have questions about an employee contract, need to draft a useful document, or have a dispute over a contract, we can help. Contact Moen Sheehan Meyer’s employment law attorneys by phone at (608) 784-8310 or online today.

Published October 18, 2021
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