Employment contracts are some of the most important documents you’ll ever sign. They can impact your career, earning potential, and future. It is not wise to take them for granted.
While understanding an employment agreement might seem straightforward, it’s often a bit more complicated. Misinterpreting even a single thing in the contract can affect your professional life. It’s imperative to fully understand the agreement before signing it.
Are you finding it hard to navigate the complex world of employment contracts? Having reliable employment law lawyers by your side helps protect your rights and secure your future. The attorneys will help you negotiate with your employer over policies that could potentially affect your professional life and make sure you are getting what you deserve.
Read on to explore why you need a lawyer for employment contracts and learn about some laws pertaining to employment contracts.
What Is an Employment Contract?
Whether it’s a brand new job or you’re being promoted to a higher position, it all starts with an employment agreement. An employment contract is a written legal document between you and your employer that outlines the terms and conditions of your employment.
It typically includes information such as the job title and description, duties, compensation, benefits, work schedule, and all other details specific to your position. Such agreements may also include provisions related to the non-disclosure of confidential information, non-compete clauses, termination conditions, and dispute resolution mechanisms.
The purpose of an employment contract is to help establish a clear understanding between you and your employer regarding the expectations and responsibilities of each party.
Furthermore, they can prevent misunderstandings and disputes from arising during your employment and include remediation options for dealing with workplace- and employment-related issues such as workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, working conditions, etc.
What Does a Typical Employment Contract in New York Include?
The inclusions of an employment agreement largely depend on factors such as your designation and the employer. However, some common things are typically found in every agreement to define the relationship between the employee and the employer.
Here’s what you can expect in your employment contract.
Job Title and Description
Your contract will include your official title and a detailed description of your job duties, responsibilities, and expectations. It may also outline any specific qualifications required for the job, such as education or experience.
In this section, you’ll find details related to your salary, hourly wage, or other forms of compensation, such as commissions or bonuses you may receive. Your base salary or hourly rate is the primary form of payment mentioned in the agreement.
The contract may include provisions for bonuses based on performance or commissions on sales. If you are eligible for overtime pay, the contract may specify the pay rate for additional hours worked.
Some employers in New York also mention information about how and when the employee’s salary may be increased, such as through performance reviews or annual raises.
Besides monetary compensation, NY employees are entitled to some additional benefits that employers must provide. In the benefits section of your contract, you’ll find details regarding employee benefits and how to avail them.
Some common benefits offered by employers include health insurance, dental and vision coverage, retirement plans such as 401(k) or pension plans, life insurance, unemployment insurance, disability insurance, workers compensation insurance, and paid time off such as vacation, sick leave, and holidays.
Employees eligible for benefits like employee discounts, wellness programs, or tuition reimbursement, will find these details in their contracts.
All employment contracts have details regarding regular work hours and any other expectations pertaining to availability of employees.
In this section, you will find details about expected work hours, including the start and end times of the workday, as well as the days of the week the employee is expected to work. It may also include information about break times, like meal breaks and rest periods.
In addition to work hours, the section tells you about the requirements of availability outside of your regular work schedule.
Termination and Severance
This is an important section of an employment agreement and outlines conditions under which the employment relationship may be terminated. It also will explain any severance pay or benefits you may be entitled to upon termination.
A typical New York employment contract has provisions for both voluntary and involuntary termination, including resignation, retirement, and termination for cause or without cause. You may also find details related to the notice period required for termination and any conditions that must be met for termination to occur.
The severance portion contains information on pay or benefits you may receive if your employment is terminated.
Non-Disclosure and Non-Compete Clauses
Non-disclosure and non-compete clauses are common provisions in New York employment contracts. A non-disclosure clause prohibits you from disclosing confidential or proprietary information about the company or its clients. On the other hand, a non-compete clause restricts you from working for a competitor or starting a similar business for a certain period of time after leaving the company.
Employers use these clauses to safeguard their trade secrets, confidential information, and intellectual property. It also helps them prevent employees from using the knowledge, skills, and contacts gained during employment to compete against the company.
If you are in an industry that requires innovation, you may find intellectual property clauses in your contract. Employers often include these clauses to clarify ownership of any intellectual property created by you during your employment. The intellectual property may be anything, such as inventions, designs, software, or other creative works that are relevant to the company’s business.
Most of the time, these clauses mean that the intellectual property created by the employee during their employment belongs to the company rather than the employee. However, such clauses are negotiable and can be settled with the help of a trusted attorney.
Governing Law and Jurisdiction
Lastly, a typical employment contract includes clauses regarding governing law and jurisdiction to specify which law will apply to the interpretation and enforcement of the agreement.
Additionally, this clause details which court or forum will have jurisdiction over any disputes that might arise during your employment.
The components of your employment contract may be less or more than the above-mentioned contents depending on the employer, your role, and more. Before you sign a contract, it’s imperative to have it reviewed by an employment attorney to ensure you clearly understand your responsibilities and there are no clauses that can affect your growth in the future.
Dial 212-967-3000 to speak to highly qualified New York employment law attorneys and get help understanding everything in your employment contract.
The Difference Between Types of Employment Contracts: Remote, Hybrid, and In-Office
Your roles and responsibilities vary depending on the type of employment, and that affects the inclusions of your contract. For example, if you are an in-office employee, you’ll most certainly receive a salary, whereas remote employees might receive pay on an hourly basis.
Here’s a breakdown of the difference in these contacts based on multiple factors.
These contracts can apply to full-time or part-time employees associated with an organization. While some might get paid a salary (for fixed work hours), most remote employees are paid per hour (for flexible work hours). Another major difference in their contract is that the overtime pay may not always be applicable to remote work or may be calculated differently than in-office work.
Employment agreements of remote employees may also lay out who is responsible for work-related expenses and equipment.
These contracts are generally more complicated than remote and in-office agreements. Since hybrid employees can work remotely or in office, their agreement mentions it specifically. Another difference is based on the payment and employment benefits.
These hybrid employees may receive similar benefits to in-office employees, such as access to office resources and equipment, but might not get overtime pay.
Employees in an in-office contract are expected to work exclusively from the employer’s physical office location. There is none of the flexibility that employees get in remote and hybrid contracts.
However, employees in an in-office contract may be paid more and receive more benefits such as “commuting reimbursement, and “occupational safety”. The working hours in these employment contracts are fixed so such employees are eligible for overtime pay for any hours worked beyond the normal work schedule.
And there are plenty of differences between each type of contract that you must understand before signing one. Is the terminology in the agreement making it hard to understand the terms and conditions?
Contact Levine & Blit and get your contract reviewed! Our professional employment law attorneys can break down all terms outlined in the agreement to ensure your rights are protected. Call us at 212-967-3000 to schedule a Free Case Evaluation to discuss the contract for your job.
Why Do You Need a Lawyer for Employment Contracts?
Getting your contract reviewed by an attorney before signing it is important even if you think HR has explained the important parts. Here are some reasons to have an employment lawyer look it over:
They Understand the Legal Language
Employment contracts often contain legal terms and complex words that can be difficult for a person to understand. An experienced lawyer can help you navigate the language and ensure that you fully understand the terms of the contract before accepting them.
They Help You Negotiate Terms and Conditions
If the contract includes something you weren’t told about by HR, such as working extra hours every month or docking pay for new equipment, an attorney can help you negotiate with the employer to change these clauses.
Similarly, employment law attorneys can help you negotiate for any missing benefits that were verbally promised to you, but aren’t mentioned in the contract. It may include negotiating salary, working hours, vacation days, and other important provisions.
They Can Prevent Legal Pitfalls
Sometimes employment contracts have clauses that cut down the legal rights of the employees. For example, a clause might prevent you from discussing salary with your coworkers. If you do, it might invite legal trouble.
In New York, employers cannot enforce policies that hinder the employee’s rights. Attorneys can discover such clauses and negotiate with your employer to get them changed or removed.
They Help You File Complaints and Represent You in Court
If a dispute arises between you and your employer due to issues like unfair treatment, age discrimination, or equal pay, a lawyer can help you enforce your rights under the contract.
Lawyers take care of everything from filing complaints with the right authorities to gathering evidence and representing you in court. Dedicated attorneys will fight to bring you justice.
Some Laws in New York Related to Employment Contracts
Knowing what laws are there to protect your rights gives you the power to explore your employment contract and determine if the terms and conditions violate any of these employment laws or acts.
New York Labor Law
The state law governs the relationship between employers and employees in New York. It includes provisions related to minimum wage, overtime, working hours, and other important employment issues in your contract.
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
This federal law requires all employers to pay their employees at least the minimum wage. If your contract mentions an hourly wage less than the minimum wage in New York ($15), it’s a violation of the law and can have consequences for your employer.
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
Under the FMLA, the federal government requires that employers provide unpaid leave to eligible employees for certain family and medical reasons. Employers in New York cannot make policies to prevent their employees from taking leaves that qualify under this law.
Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN)
According to this law, employers in New York or any other state must provide advance notice of certain types of layoffs and plant closures. If your employment agreement has policies that don’t comply with the WARN Act, it can qualify as a violation.
Get Your Employment Contract Reviewed by Expert Lawyers: Contact Levine & Blit
To ensure that you receive all the benefits entitled to you, and to prevent employer discrimination, it’s essential to have a comprehensive understanding of your employment contract and federal employment laws.
When you hire Levine & Blit to review your contract, our lawyers make sure you understand all contents of the agreement. We will make sure everything is fair and beneficial. We will help you negotiate terms that could potentially affect your future and prevent you from practicing your rights.
For many workers in New York, it’s essential to protect yourself from any possible employer violations by having your contract reviewed by experts in employment law.
Call us at 212-967-3000 or reach out online today!