Five Items to Review Before Signing an Employment Contract

review employment contract

When people get offered a job, they feel too giddy and excited to start that they forget to read and understand the terms of the employment contract they are signing. Employment contracts are an agreement between the employer and the employee. It defines the terms and the conditions of the employment and aims to protect the rights of both parties.

If the contract is unclear about certain terms and conditions, you might have to look for judicial arbitration mediation services if there will be issues in your employment in the future. That takes too much effort, time, and money, so it’s better to check and make sure that the contract is both to your liking. The contract will indicate whether the employees are “at will,” which means that the employer can fire you at any time for any reason (but excluding discriminatory reasons). It also means that you, as an employee, can leave the company anytime and for any reason.

State Law

Check if the contract follows the laws and rules of the state you are in. In New York, for example, an employee cannot leave a job unless they are willing to give up their accrued vacation time. This is not the same as other states such as Massachusetts. Understand how employment contracts work in your state and know what legal rights you can claim in the future.

Job Description

Most employers tend to be vague on this subject because they don’t want to be hindered by the contract as to what they will ask the workers to do in the future. Being vague in the job description might provide a way for employers to abuse this particular item on the contract. As an employee, demand a detailed description of what you will be tasked to do.


This part will specify the terms of how the fulfillment of the job will be measured. It should detail the specific tasks and duties of the employee, as well as when their actions will be subject to termination or the cancellation of the contract. Make sure to read this part thoroughly because this will indicate the expectations of you as an employee.


Many restrictions can apply to an employee. You can be restricted from holding a side hustle. You can violate the contract if you divulge certain information about your work. Months or years after the contract has ended, it might still hold you to a non-compete clause. This means that you cannot start a business or be employed by another company that is in direct competition with your former employer. This part of the contract can derail your career and any economic opportunities that might come your way.


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This is the most critical aspect of any employment contract. This part will indicate the worker’s salary, insurance and health benefits, bonus structures, profit-sharing plans, and commissions. It will also specify how many vacation and sick leaves the employee is allowed to take, as well as the schedule of the payments.

You might want to have a lawyer check the employment contract before you sign it. While most companies will tell you that the contract is a mere formality, don’t take their word for it. You would do better by letting a lawyer see the contract to make sure that your rights are protected.

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