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Why is it so important to have a written employment agreement?

On Behalf of | Jul 5, 2022 | Employment Law |

British Columbia business owners are often busy with a range of priorities such as cash flow and making the next sale. When a promising new employee comes around, it can be tempting to quickly onboard the individual through a “handshake deal” and skip certain formalities. However, a written employment contract that is particular to the individual and role being hired can save business owners a big headache down the line, especially if the relationship goes sour and a civil suit is filed. Here are some of the best practices regarding employment contracts from the employer perspective:

  • Consistency: Every employee should sign a contract, not just management. This shows fairness on the part of your business, and helps with preventing or responding to lawsuits which could come from anyone in your business.
  • Clarity: Employers should make it clear that the employee’s employment only begins after signing the contract. If there are conditions that need to be met by the employee per the contract, those conditions should be satisfied before the employee commences employment.
  • Comprehensiveness: The contract should address employee expectations, compensation, confidentiality/privacy, hours of work, vacation, benefits, discipline, dismissal and layoff, and any other clause recommended by an employment lawyer.

The reality is that almost all British Columbia employees have contracts, whether or not they are formalized in writing. Verbal or “handshake deals” as well as written contracts, will be considered by a court in the case of a civil suit. A well drafted written employment contract is an important way for employers to ensure that there is no ambiguity in what was agreed to and reduce the risk of liability to employees.

It is critical that the clauses in a written employment contract are legally sound. For this reason, it is recommended that business owners seek an employment lawyer’s assistance in drafting the contract. Our lawyers advise clients on virtually all types of employment law matters, including drafting and reviewing employment agreements. Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any questions regarding this topic.



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