Employment Contract Lawyers Calgary

What are employment contracts?

An employment contract is an agreement between an individual employee and an employer or a labor union. It establishes both the rights and responsibilities of the two parties: the worker and the company employing them. Employment contracts can be written or oral and contain various express or implied terms. However, having a written contract can be beneficial to both parties in the event either party wants to terminate the working relationship. Written employment contracts can take various forms including that of a letter to a more complex, lengthier agreement covering a broad range of topics.

As with all contracts, there must be an offer of employment and a subsequent acceptance of the offer for there to be a binding contract. It is advisable that employers ensure the prospective employee sign the written contract prior to starting work to avoid potential legal arguments at a later date that no consideration was provided at the time. In that instance, the employee may argue that there was only an oral agreement in force between the parties. As well, employers should recommend that a potential employee receive independent legal advice before signing an employment contract that contains a number of provisions. This step can avoid the argument from a former employee later on that they did not understand what they were signing.

If an employer wishes to change the terms of an employment contract once the employment relationship is underway, typically new consideration is required. This could be a salary or benefit increase or something that is of benefit to the employee in exchange for accepting the new terms of employment. However, changing the employment agreement during the course of employment can present pitfalls and concerns; it is recommended employer’s seek legal advice before contemplating changes to an employee’s employment agreement.

Any employment agreement must be in compliance with all applicable legislation. If the agreement is non-compliant in one or more areas, there is the risk the entire agreement could fail.

Finally, fixed term contracts are a special type of employment contract that contemplates a fixed end term. The employment relationship will end at that date automatically unless it is renewed. Fixed term contracts can present their own unique attributes particularly in respect of reasonable notice including the situation where an employer wishes to terminate the worker earlier than the set end date. Employers contemplating hiring a worker on a fixed term contract would be well served to obtain information about these types of contracts prior to hiring.

Many Calgary business owners need to hire new employees frequently, having concise and legally enforceable written contracts is an important step to protect your legal rights and interests.

What items should be considered for inclusion?

A written employment contract will typically contain the following terms:

  • Description of roles and responsibilities of the new hire;
  • An offer of employment;
  • The start date and if it is a fixed term contract, the end date;
  • The rate of pay or salary;
  • Description of benefits to be paid upon hiring, if any;
  • Description of any probationary period applicable;
  • If the creation of intellectual property is involved with the position, a clause setting out ownership of such property;
  • Confidentiality provision;
  • Restrictive covenants if applicable, namely a non-compete and non-solicitation clause;
  • Termination provision;
  • Severance pay obligations;
  • Dispute resolution clause;
  • Entire agreement clause; and
  • A provision confirming that the employee has had the opportunity to obtain independent legal advice on the agreement.

A written employment agreement can be a valuable tool for employers in their hiring process. Cashion Legal is able to assist with all forms of employment contracts and secure your rights and inform you of your obligations.

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