Are you a new employee or contractor looking to have your employment contract reviewed by a lawyer before signing it? Or were you just get let go and are wondering if your employment contract limits your entitlements? At Monkhouse Law in Toronto, our Employment Lawyers are experienced in reviewing employment contracts and negotiating employment agreements.
Employment Contract Review
An employment contract is often more important than any other legal document someone will ever sign in their life. A long-lasting employment relationship could be worth millions of dollars throughout a life-long career in Toronto.
At Monkhouse Law, we can help you understand the “legalese” of your employment contract as well as strategize and act to ensure your agreement works out in your best interests. In order, in an employment contract review at our firm, we can:
- Review the offer;
- Explain the offer;
- Offer an opinion on the offer;
- Propose changes to the offer to you; and
- Guide you in negotiating our proposed changes or acting on your behalf to negotiate the changes; and
- If you accept the offer, act as periodic counsel over the course of your employment.
Why Have Your Employment Contract Reviewed By A Lawyer
When you are provided with a new employment offer, it is important to take the time to review and understand the proposed rights and obligations of the parties as well as what will happen in the event the employment relationship terminates.
Beware: The vast majority of employment contracts are written in favour of the employer, not the employee. Likewise, employment contracts and employment laws are not always straightforward, and you may have a question about what some of the terms in your offer mean.
Calling us is the first step to clarity. Understanding your employment law rights and your proposed offer’s terms and conditions will benefit you in the long run. We want to avoid us meeting you for the first time after you are dismissed from work following your having signed a bad deal, and having to tell you your options are limited because you signed such a bad deal.
Special Note: Having your contract reviewed by a lawyer is especially recommended if you’re being solicited away to another employer. You may not know what you are giving up, and, in our experience, many people would be surprised they are leaving a lot of hidden money on the table.
The Benefits Of Having Your Employment Contract Reviewed
Employers use employment contracts to set the standard terms of employment like pay and benefits. Still, they also usually use employment contracts to limit employee rights concerning various “common law” conditions for which employees should be made aware. For instance:
- Employers draft non-competition and non-solicitation clauses in employment contracts that limit an employee’s ability to work following a resignation or termination. A lawyer can advise on whether these clauses are enforceable or should be negotiated down.
- Employers also draft termination clauses to heavily limit employee entitlements to notice, pay in place of notice or severance upon dismissal without cause. A lawyer can advise on the ramifications of such clauses and advise on negotiating them out or improving them.
- Employers have also increasingly drafted anti-constructive dismissal clauses that permit them to change the employee’s duties, compensation and other important terms and conditions without triggering a breach of the contract.
Furthermore, employees should be aware that any previous discussion or promises made by the employer not included in the contract’s explicit text will not be enforceable down the road. Suppose something like a formula for equity awards, for example, is missing from the contract. In that case, a lawyer can point it out, and the employee can negotiate it into the contract.
This way, where the employee had the foresight to have the contract reviewed by a lawyer before signing it, there will be no surprises down the road.
Moreover, an employment lawyer can explain the “legalese” of the contract, discussing what each clause means and how it impacts the employee’s rights during employment and, importantly, upon termination. Most employees will get a tremendous benefit in learning about each clause’s consequences in their contract to plan around or for a triggering event.
Additionally, it important to note that much of the litigation taken up by employment lawyers for their clients concerns ambiguous language in employment contracts regarding bonuses and other discretionary income. Therefore, for higher-level employees and sales employees, it is crucial to have an employment contract reviewed by experienced counsel. The lawyer can advise on, for example:
- Whether the bonus is truly discretionary;
- The formula for the bonus;
- The right to the bonus over the notice period; and
- The right of the employer to pause or pull the bonus.
Also, as employment lawyers review job offers all the time and are well versed on standards for compensation in this city, they know the “market” and can advise on whether an offer is “fair”. Take advantage of this knowledge before you leave employment for supposed greener pastures.
Finally, a lawyer reviewing an employment contract can advise what is “missing” from the offer. Employment lawyers have seen hundreds, if not thousands of employment contracts, and they know all the important clauses an employee should want to include in their agreement.
To find out more details about employment contracts: Employment Contracts: What You Need to Know
If you are an executive or in a senior position: Executive Employment Contracts: 6 Key Areas To Negotiate
How Much Does An Employment Contract Review Cost?
In our experience, an employment contract review usually takes the lawyer one hour to read, analyze and discuss the offer with the client and another one or two hours on the client’s follow up questions and negotiations with the employer. To that end, an employment contract review generally costs whatever the lawyer charges by the hour for one to three hours (your circumstances may vary, and we will estimate how long it will take for you). Most lawyers in Toronto charge between around $300 and $750 per hour, depending on the lawyer’s years of experience.
It is worth noting that we have found that some employers, but not all, will pay the employee back for the cost of the employment contract review.
We conduct in-person and phone call employment contract reviews. We have found that phone employment contract reviews are just as successful as in-person contract reviews. A phone employment contract review is done by reviewing an electronic copy of the offer, and then talking out the law and our opinion just like we would in person.
We offer a free 30-minute phone consultation to discuss preliminary discussions about contract reviews. However, we do not review the contract or provide advice during this free consultation period.