Five Common Mistakes to Avoid Before Signing Your Employment Contract

These are especially uncertain times if you are looking to re-enter or find stability in the workforce. Many people, like you, are navigating today’s novel employment issues alone, without a full understanding of what their rights are under law. 

Clients often hire a lawyer when they are resigning, when they are fired, or when they experience discrimination. 

What about when you are going to sign a legally-binding employment contract? 

At Inlet Law, we believe that a deep dive into employment and common law considerations is essential prior to signing on that dotted line to avoid long-term consequences.  

Here are five common mistakes you should avoid before signing your employment contract:

  1. Not knowing what legislation applies (and doesn’t apply) to you

Different fields of work are covered by different legislation. You may be covered by British Columbia’s Employment Standards Act, or Canada’s Labour Code. You may be covered by British Columbia’s Human Rights Code, or Canada’s Human Rights Act. No employees are governed by all these statutes. Do you know which ones apply to you?

  1. Not questioning ambiguous provisions

Ambiguous portions in a contract can make it difficult to know what your rights and obligations are in the course of your employment. This can give you a headache later, if things are asked of you that you don’t think you explicitly signed up for, or if you don’t receive benefits you thought you would.  A great example (which arises frequently for us) is a bonus payable on a formula yet to be determined. 

  1. Not reviewing the notice period

Employers have to meet the mandatory minimum requirements for an employee’s notice period set out by British Columbia’s Employment Standards Act (or applicable legislation). If the mandatory minimums are not met, your termination clause might be unenforceable, irrespective of what it says on its face. 

  1. Not questioning your severance pay

Under law, there are mandatory minimum severance payment amounts that an employee is entitled to in lieu of notice. If an employer pays less than that minimum, or tries to contract out of this duty, getting the compensation you are entitled to may be easier than you think.  We can show you how.

  1. Not hiring a lawyer

We would review all of the above issues when assessing your potential employment contract. Negotiations have everything to do with knowing your industry, negotiating power, points of leverage and more. 

Your employer most likely drafted the contract to maximize its own benefits and entitlements. Not hiring a lawyer to review your employment contract means you may not fully understand some of the terms that you are signing off on and that you might be leaving pay or benefits on the table. Hiring a lawyer can help you level the playing field.

Enter your employment negotiations fully informed and prepared. Call Inlet Employment Law today for a consultation and contract review, before you sign. The first call is always free.

Flat rate and hourly fees for contract review are available – call for more information at (604) 39 INLET (604-394 6538).

Martin Sheard assisted me, and his work was first-rate. He was knowledgeable, efficient, and made me absolutely confident that I had received exactly the legal services I needed.
— Joe Broadhurst / Managing Partner, Broadhurst Kooy Family Law

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Martin Sheard has advocated at the Supreme Court of Canada on behalf of financially marginalized Canadians. Only about once every two years does the Supreme Court of Canada hear an employment law case, so this was a special moment for Martin.