If you are responsible for hiring new employees, you undoubtedly understand the level of stress that comes along with this task. You want to make sure that the candidate is a good fit for your practice, but it can be difficult to tell when you are relying on little more than a resume and a few interview questions.
Fortunately, you can ensure that you and your practice are protected in the event that the new hire fails to perform the tasks that are expected of them with an employment contract.
What is an Employment Contract?
Typically, when you are looking to hire a new employee, there will be some negotiations when it comes to matters like salary, benefits, or vacation time. For an excellent candidate, for example, your practice may decide to offer a higher pay rate. Likewise, upon offering this candidate a position, you will explain all their responsibilities. These expectations, on both sides, must be documented in writing to protect both the employee and the employer in the event of a stressful disagreement or legal action in the future. This document is known as an employment contract.
While you can write your own employment contract, it is always wise to seek the guidance of an HR or legal professional to aid with this process. Using their experience in the industry, they will likely offer inclusions that those who are new to employment contracts would not think to include. If you are hiring overseas employees be sure that you write a copy of the contract in the employee’s own language. You can use legal translations experts to ensure your documents are accurate and comprehensible.
What Information is Included in an Employment Contract?
While employment contracts vary greatly from one practice to the next, ones that are well-written thoroughly outline matters like job duties, rules, policies, confidentiality agreements, termination information, employee compensation/benefits and non-compete clauses. This may also include any specific provisions that apply to a particular industry.
For example, a team member who is employed in a therapist’s office will likely be subject to much stricter confidentiality requirements than someone who is employed at a veterinary practice. Although much of the information outlined will be general expectations for someone employed in a particular position, having the requirements and expectations outlined in writing ensures that the employee understands what is expected of them. Likewise, this protects the employer in the future if they must terminate the employee for violating one of the terms listed within the employment contract.
Does an Employment Contract Have to be in Writing?
It is always a good idea to have a written employment contract for both parties to reference in the future; however oral contracts can also count as employment contracts. This offers less protection to the employee and employer, but it is a common practice. An oral employment contract is usually much more to the point where both parties agree to the duties, salary, and benefits. Employees who enter an oral contract for employment will likely be presented with further documentation later, such as a book on policies or a confidentiality agreement.
How Do You Write an Employment Contract and What’s Included?
One of the most crucial aspects of any contract is that it is thorough. It should be as detailed as possible and aim to offer any necessary information that may be required in the future as well as solutions to any disputes that may be encountered throughout the term of employment.
If you do opt to write your own employment contract, be sure to include the following information:
- The Names of Both Parties (Employee/Employer)
- Start Date/Date Agreement is Signed
- The Length of Employment
- Job Duties
- Hours/Schedule Information
- Salary and Benefits
- Termination Details
- Confidentiality/Non-Compete Clauses or Other Agreements
Should All Employees Sign an Employment Contract?
Employment contracts are a good idea when you hire any new employee within your practice, although an oral agreement may suffice for temporary employees. Keep in mind that if you use a person who is hired as an independent contractor, an employment contract is unnecessary. This is because they are not technically employees of your practice so much of the information included will not apply to these individuals. Instead, be sure that you sign a service agreement or another form of a contract to protect both parties.
What if an Employee Does Not Want to Sign an Employment Contract?
If an employee refuses to sign an employment contract, they are essentially refusing the terms of employment. If you are not willing to renegotiate the terms that they find bothersome, they will then forfeit the position that they have been offered. At this point, you will need to continue your search and find an employee who is willing to agree to company policies, duties and the salary offered.