During the recruitment phase of employment, many employers allow potential employees to negotiate the terms for the upcoming employment arrangement. These can include wages, work hours, benefits, and many other provisions. The results of the negotiations may then be formalized into an employment contract. The contract will govern the terms of the employment as well as the employer/employee relationship. 

If no employment contract is used, the employment arrangement is usually classified as “at-will” employment. This means that the employee can be terminated at the will of the employee, for any valid, legal reason. However, even with at-will employment arrangements, it may be common for the employer and future employee to negotiate some of the terms for the employment. 

What Can Be Discussed during Employment Contract Negotiations?

First of all, most state laws don’t require employers to engage in employment contract negotiations. It’s usually up to the employer as to whether they will allow a future employer to negotiate the different terms of employment. If employment contract negotiations do occur, some commonly discussed factors include:

  • Wages
  • Work hours
  • Benefits
  • Various clauses like non-compete clauses or non-disclosure clauses
  • Length of the employment arrangement

Thus, employment contract negotiations usually include these basic terms of employment. In addition, you may wish to address more specific items, especially if you consider them to be an important part of your employment arrangement. Some of these may include:

  • Location: You may wish to inquire about alternative locations or whether your job will involve traveling. You can also discuss whether relocation will be required in the future, and if so, whether relocation expenses will be covered 
  • Fringe Benefits: Extra benefits like day-care resources, gym memberships, free parking, etc. may be available upon request
  • Opportunities for Advancement: Many employees accept a job offer based on whether they will have room to advance their career. If you are unsure of advancement opportunities, be sure to raise this during negotiations
  • Company Goals, Policies, and Visions: You will want to make sure that your personal goals and beliefs align with those of the company. You may request to view the company’s vision plan or mission statement

Thus, there are many aspects of employment that you’ll want to address during employment contract negotiations. Be sure to bring up any concerns or issues that you may have. Many employers are willing to negotiate terms that aren’t part of a standard employment agreement.

What If I Have a Dispute over an Employment Contract Term?

The point of having an employment contract is to ensure that you have a written record of the agreements you reached during negotiations. It’s always good to keep a copy of the employment contract for future reference- that way, you can refer back to the original agreement if you have any questions or disputes in the future.

Disputes over employment terms are often resolved within the company, for example by submitting a complaint to the human resources department. Sometimes it might be necessary to file a claim with a government employment agency such as the EEOC, or with a civil court of law. With such claims, the employment contract itself can serve as evidence in support of your claim.

Oftentimes, a dispute or misunderstanding can arises simply because the future employee wasn’t aware of their rights under state and local laws. You may wish to contact a lawyer for advice before signing any employment contract, or if you have a dispute in the future.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Employment Contract Negotiations?

Contacting an employment lawyer can be of much help when undergoing employment contract negotiations. An experienced lawyer in your area can tell you exactly what your rights are under current employment laws. Also, your lawyer can perform tasks like reviewing the contract, keeping you informed of changes in the laws, or representing you in a civil lawsuit.