In general, everyone who enters into a formal business or employment agreement will be required to sign a contract. These contracts are important because they are both legally binding and specify what each party have and have not agreed to. However, even clear and specifically drafted contracts can result in various kinds of disputes.
Some of these disputes arise simply because reading a contract is not the same as understanding it. Contracts are generally dense with legal terminology that may have specific and unique applications. It is for this reason that anyone can benefit from discussing a contract’s provisions with an attorney before signing it. Careful planning and review of contracts can help individuals and businesses avoid many of the challenges that often lead to legal headaches down the road.
The Timeframe is Important
Many contract disputes will arise because the timeframe in the contract is not clear. When exactly is the start date? When is the end date? These dates are important because many companies will tie the start of a paycheck to these dates. If someone’s start date isn’t for two months yet they expect to be paid for those months in between, this should be clearly specified in the contract. Furthermore, does the employee have any tasks that they must complete prior to their start date? If they do have responsibilities, should they be paid prior to their start date? These are a few examples of common problems that will arise due to an unclear timeframe.
Causes for Termination
This is one of the most important areas of a contract because it specifies how, when, and why an employer could potentially terminate someone. For example, many contracts have language that specifies that legal troubles would be a cause for termination; however, what exactly does this mean? Is a speeding ticket considered legal trouble? What about being arrested and charged with a crime? Should due process take precedence and require a conviction before someone is terminated? This language is vital because it specifies reasons for firing an employee.
The Scope of Responsibilities
Much of the contract is going to be dedicated to specifying the responsibilities of the employee. Some employees are comfortable with a larger role than others and this language is important because failure to complete these responsibilities could be a cause for termination. Every employee should thoroughly read through the jobs that they could be responsible for. Along with these responsibilities will include specifications for time off as well as compensation. Understanding the potential responsibilities in the contract is important and could require review by an experienced legal professional to fully understand the implications.
Clearly, contract planning can help to avoid disputes down the road. Contracts are full of legal jargon that can be a challenge to parse through. Therefore, anyone who is thinking about writing or signing a contract should consider contacting an experienced attorney for assistance.