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Do you know what to ask for in an employment contract?

An employment contract is a written agreement that protects both the employee and the employer should anything happen that might result in the employee leaving a job whether voluntarily or involuntarily. The contract also protects you while you're on the job and can help minimize issues between you and your employer by providing for clarity of expectations. But an employee contract is only as strong as your own negotiating skills and expectations.

Some things to consider asking for in an employee contract include compensation, the scope of your job duties and employment, benefits, expenses and terms of employment, and the manner by which employment may be terminated. Numerous other considerations might be important for your situation, and your employer will likely have his or her own inclusions, so understanding how to negotiate and review a contract is important.

Compensation language is critical for most contracts. How much are you going to be paid, and how long will the employer guarantee that rate? Are you entitled to raises, bonuses or other increases, and how will they be measured, decided upon and managed? What are some specific circumstances that might warrant an employer reducing your salary?

To avoid doing extra work for no extra pay, make sure the scope of your job is included in the contract. What are your responsibilities and what will the employer expect of you? Do certain duties equate to bonuses or an increase in pay? Where are you expected to work, and will there be travel? If you are expected to travel or cover your own expenses, what is the policy for reimbursement? You want to ensure you don't have to pay your own way with no assistance from your employer.

Understanding how, when and why employment can be terminated is also important. Once you have a contract, hold your employer to it. Breaching contract for any reason can come with consequences, and you have a legal right to hold the employer responsible for any added payments or other consequences associated with the contract.

Source: Forbes, "Negotiating Employment Agreements: Checklist Of 14 Key Issues," Richard Harroch, accessed Dec. 11, 2015

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