Employment agreements for regular state employees are generally referred to as state employment contracts. These workers would be qualified for a number of state benefits related to compensation, overtime, vacation, retirement plans, and other aspects of employment since the state regards them as being lawfully employed.
One thing to keep in mind is that not all individuals employed by the state are regarded as regular employees. For instance, some people might be regarded as “independent contractors” or volunteers. Despite perhaps having a contract with the state, these people might not be eligible for any state benefits.
As a result, it’s critical to comprehend whether a person is regarded as a state employee in light of the kind of contract they hold.
Are Self-Employed People Considered State Employees?
Any person who may have a contract to work with the state, but only for a certain period of time and for a particular objective, is considered an independent contractor. These people might not be regarded as normal employees. As an alternative, it could refer to a person employed by a state employee and working on their behalf.
The hard aspect is that the term “independent contractor” lacks any clear, comprehensive definition. The courts may take into account a number of variables when assessing whether an employee is a regular employee or an independent contractor, including:
- Whether the work is a part of ordinary state activity or is a distinct, separate service;
- Whether the work calls for specialized knowledge, equipment, or skills;
- How closely state employees and employers are monitoring the work;
- The methods and timing of payment;
- Any contested clauses in the employment contract;
- How long the project will last; and
- How long will the contract worker’s relationship with the state entity last
Even though a state employment contract has language that states, “This is intended to be an independent contract,” the court may decide, based on the aforementioned considerations, that the individual is actually an employee. This is why state employment contract disputes are often handled on an individual, case-by-case basis.
What If I Have a Conflict Over My Employment Contract?
Your status as a regular state employee or an independent contractor will therefore affect the resolution of any employment contract dispute. Most states demand that you submit your claim immediately to a state employment or labor agency if you need to make a claim. In order to ascertain your rights under the most recent state employment laws, the agency will look into your claim.
Regardless of what your written contract might say, as was already noted, you could be regarded as either a state employee or an independent contractor, depending on how you act and behave when performing your job duties. Depending on the problem, there may be a range of implications, such as compensation for lost wages or the restoration of lost benefits.
Dismissal and “At-Will” Employment
Employees frequently use employment contracts to demonstrate that their right to be fired by their employer is constrained. Most states consider employment to be “at will,” meaning that either party may terminate the relationship at any moment.
However, where the employee can demonstrate that the employer entered into a clear contract to retain the employee for a specific period of time, the employer’s ability to fire the employee may be restricted. In contrast, an “implied contract” may state that employees can only be terminated for a good reason.
Many states also acknowledge that a verbal promise made by an employer—for example, “You’ll be here as long as your sales are above budget”—can result in a legally-binding employment contract. However, the “statute of frauds,” a legal theory that states that an oral agreement that cannot be carried out in less than a year is illegal, places restrictions on the enforcement of such verbal agreements.
In the aforementioned situation, the agreement would be enforceable even if the employee was not fired because it was conceivable that they may have fallen below budget and been let go within a year. A verbal agreement needs to be expressed as well in order to be upheld. You won’t typically be held to a promise like “You’ll have a job here as long as you like.”
Last but not least, a few states recognize an implied contract of employment when an employer engages in a “course of dealing” over time, such as by retaining workers as long as they meet certain performance standards. Employees may contend that they are protected from termination if they continue to uphold those standards.
Employment Agreements: Additional Considerations
Written or implied clauses in employment contracts, such as those found in employee handbooks or policies, may also cover the following topics:
- Basic pay
- Employment duration
- Health coverage
- Holidays and sick days
- Grievance processes for employees
- The end of employment
- Following the end of the job relationship, employee conduct
In general, the scope of such an agreement must not go beyond what is required to safeguard the employer’s business, regardless of the geographic area it covers or the duration of the agreement. Additionally, although a covenant not to compete is frequently required of new hires as a condition of employment, it cannot be required of a person who is already employed unless it is accompanied by other benefits such as a raise, a bonus payment, or better commission conditions.
Forms of Employment Agreements and Compensation Contracts
- Disclaimer of Confidentiality: A contract is an employee confidentiality agreement (or part of a contract). The employee agrees to keep all business-related information and any confidential plans, strategies, calculations, information, or equipment of the employer to themselves. A confidentiality agreement typically remains in effect even after the employee leaves the employer.
- Non-Compete Agreement: Under the non-competition clause, the employee pledges not to work for any competitor companies or businesses that are comparable to those of the employer for a predetermined period of time after leaving their employment with them. The employee won’t launch a business that competes with that of the employer or approaches clients of the employer. The non-compete provision often applies only to a specific geographic area.
A clause on ownership of inventions covers a worker who invents anything as part of their job. Per this clause of the employment agreement, any inventions made by the employee while employed (or within a specified time after termination) will inure to the benefit of the employer and not the employee. Additionally, most employees consent to assign their inventions to their employers, work with them to patent their ideas, and maintain the invention’s details as a trade secret.
Employers occasionally include a best-efforts clause in the employment contract, even though it is frequently anticipated that the employee will work hard for the company. It states that employees pledge to do their best work and uphold their employer’s loyalty. Sometimes it additionally states that the worker expressly consents to offer advice and recommendations to the employer that will be advantageous to the business.
Do I Require Legal Advice Regarding State Employment Contracts?
State employment contracts may cover a variety of terms and job-related issues. If you need assistance drafting, reviewing, or updating an employment contract with the state, you might want to consider hiring a contract lawyer.
Additionally, you might need to contact a lawyer if you need to bring a claim or file a lawsuit in relation to your state employment contract. According to the employment regulations in your state, your attorney can advocate for you and help defend your rights.