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Overview of employee contracts

As an employee, even in an at-will employment scenario, you may be required to sign an employment contract. Each employment contract has the potential to be different, so if you have a contract, it is vital for you to have a working knowledge of your contract, what it requires of you, how it protects you and how it protects your employer. Furthermore, in some cases, you may have what is considered an "implied contract," that can be enforced through a court, depending on your particular circumstances.

In general, employment contracts lay out your responsibilities as an employee, and any responsibilities that your employer has to you, as well as basic information pertaining to your salary, benefits and the date that your began your employment. Once a contract is signed by the employee, it is considered legally binding.

Another common element of an employee contract is a confidentiality agreement. Under a confidentiality agreement, an employee is restricted from disclosing certain kinds of information that relates to business secrets for your employer. In most cases, a confidentiality agreement does not expire once you leave the job, and it typically may be accompanied by a non-compete clause that requires that you do not leave the position to take a similar position with a competitor, to ensure the safety of these business secrets.

Simply because your employment contract contains certain clauses does not mean that the employer necessarily has the right to require certain things from you. If you believe that your employment contract may contain unfair or illegal clauses, you may want to seek the guidance of an experienced attorney who is familiar with worker's rights. With proper guidance, you can explore your rights as a worker and fully understand your employment contract, or possibly fight to have it changed in the event that it contains unfair terms.

Source: FindLaw, "At-Will Employee FAQs," accessed Jan. 04, 2017

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