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5 Important Terms to Negotiate in Your Employment Agreement

After a difficult job search, you have finally accepted a job offer, but don’t relax quite yet! All your hard work will go to waste if you don’t make sure to negotiate your employment agreement on favorable terms. Make sure your future employer knows your position on the following five important terms.


At-Will vs. Fixed-Term Employment

For many people, whether you are an at-will employee or a fixed-term employee can make all the difference as far as reducing stress and creating a good employment relationship.

At-will employment is by far the most common type of employment in the United States. In this type employment either party can end the employment relationship at any time, with or without reason. This is good for employees that may need to quickly jump ship or may want to accept a better job offer at any time; however, the employer also has the freedom to terminate the employee at any time.

With fixed-term employment, on the other hand, the employee is assured of employment for a set amount of time. This can go a long way to reducing your stress and helping you plan for the future.

Compensation Structure

Naturally, how much you are paid is going to be very important to you. However, don’t forget that your compensation is more than just a number. Also consider the payment structure (hourly, salary, commission, etc.), how often you will be paid, and what the benefits will be. Think about the following questions when negotiating your compensation structure:

  • They may be paying you a lot, but how many hours do you have to work in return?
  • Are they giving you enough vacation time to enjoy that hard-earned money?
  • What is the sick leave like?
  • Will you receive stock options?
  • Will you have flexible work hours?
  • Will moving expenses be paid for?
  • Do you get a travel stipend?

Often it is well worth accepting slightly lower pay in return for other benefits that are important to you.

Job Duties

The compensation may be where you want it to be, but what is expected of you in return? Are they asking too much of you or for you to do tasks which weren’t part of the initial job description? It is important to discuss the job duties in detail before signing your employment agreement to ensure that both parties are on the same page.

Outside Employment

Many people forget to discuss whether any outside employment will be allowed. This can have severe consequences since by default, most employment agreements don’t allow any type of outside employment activities. Some go even further by prohibiting the employee from engaging in any sort of activity that will take up too much of the employee’s time and energy.

This means that you might not be able to continue that weekly DJ side-job that you love or that you can’t start that Internet business you always dreamed of. For this reason, it is best to discuss any activities you may want to pursue ahead of time with the employer to make sure they will be allowed and then to also make sure your contract reflects this.

Non-Compete Clause

Lastly, you will also want to make sure to take a look at your non-compete clause. Some non-compete clauses are very restrictive as to the type of employment you can pursue after you stop working for the employer. These may prevent you from working in the same industry after you leave. If you think the clause will make it too difficult for you to find another job, then it is best to try to have this clause rewritten to something less restrictive.


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