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Negotiating Your Employment Agreement

EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENT - 09/05/11

Perhaps one of the most overlooked elements of a new job search, especially in today's economic climate, is the value of a legal employment agreement in the negotiation process. Searching for a new job can be an exhaustive endeavor, and applicants tend to relax after the position has been offered. However, this is actually the most critical stage of your new employment because it is when the real negotiations begin.

1. Negotiating the Terms of Your Employment

Prior to accepting a position with any company, it is vital to negotiate all the terms of your employment and get them in writing in the form of an employment agreement. This agreement can be used to negotiate and document all the conditions of your employment that have been agreed upon as well as defining your employer’s expectations of you and what you can expect from them.

2. What Should Be In the Legal Employment Agreement?

If you have requirements that need to be met prior to accepting the position, the employment agreement is where they will be documented. On the employee’s side, it details items such as your compensation and any bonus or stock options, and it will explain:

  • benefits, such as a 401(k);
  • sick days;
  • vacation and flex time;
  • whether there will be travel involved or relocation; and
  • how you will be compensated if these elements are required.

On the employer’s side, it documents items that will protect the company, such as defining the scope of work that you are expected to adhere to and any limits on conduct during your employment or afterward, especially if you have access to trade secrets or confidential company information involved with your position. Many legal employment agreements also record a company’s ability to assign the terms of your employment should they be acquired by another company.

3. Protecting Your Rights

The most important thing to understand about a legal employment agreement is that it takes the place of verbal assumptions and it protects both your rights as an employee and your employer’s interests as well. It is a binding agreement that ensures your employer will act according to their promises and it sets a professional foundation for the mutual benefit of all parties involved.

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