In The Bahamas, you need an attorney to review your contract of employment before you sign it. There are a number of reasons why you should take the time to find an attorney before putting pen to paper. Chief among them, a contract of employment is a binding legal document.
A Contract of Employment Is a Legal Document
Contracts agreed to and signed by the parties are enforceable in court. This means that your employer can require you to do or refrain from doing any of the requirements listed in your contract of employment. Unless you can show that some unusual circumstances exist, you will have to follow the contract. Your lawyer can tell you if a court will not enforce parts of the contract or if you should seek to negotiate parts of the contract before signing it.
Spotting Unexpected Requirements
A lawyer familiar with contracts of employment can spot any unexpected requirements in your contract. For example, your contract could have a hidden relocation clause that says you have to move at your employer's option. Your contract may place restrictions on your ability to work for a competitor if you leave your job. It could say that you cannot take any clients with you when you leave. Further, many contracts also state that the employer can vary the terms of employment without the employee's consent and without notice.
When you give your contract to your lawyer, also give her a list of the job requirements and benefits as your prospective employer explained to you at the interview or in the offer. For example, list the proposed salary or pay rate, commissions, benefits and bonuses, position title, place of work, and hours of work. The lawyer can compare your understanding with the contract language to ensure that they match. If you wait until your employment is terminated by you or your employer, you may find that matters you assumed were covered in the contract of employment were not or were not addressed in the way that expected.
Advising on Ability to Negotiate
Finally, you should have your contract of employment reviewed by a lawyer before you sign it because your lawyer can advise you on negotiating its terms. If, for example, the rate of pay listed in the contract is slightly lower than you were hoping for, but the bonus is higher, you may be able to negotiate a higher rate of pay in exchange for a lower bonus. Of course, your ability to negotiate will depend on your circumstances. Confide in your lawyer to avoid pitfalls in your contract of employment and get a good start in your new job.
To find out more about contracts of employment, visit Gonsalves-Sabola Chambers online or call the office at +1 242 326 6400.
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