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Not every job requires a contract between employer and employee. However, when the job includes complex benefits, access to trade secrets or other critical issues, a contract may help clarify the rights and responsibilities of each side. California employees should be cautious when accepting a position that includes an employment contract because the fine print may not always provide for the best interests of the worker.

The common elements of an employee contract include a general description of the worker’s duties, itemized compensation details, and a schedule of the days and hours the employee will work. It is important that a new hire not assume this is all the contract contains. Some employment contracts place restrictions on workers, and they may be unfair.

For the protection of the business, the employer may include a confidentiality clause, prohibiting workers from sharing private information with others. Contracts may have non-compete clauses, which often limit an employee’s opportunities for work after leaving the job. Some workers find they lose control or ownership of anything they produce on the job.

A California employer should agree to allow a new hire time to read and consider the terms of the contract before signing. It is wise for an employee to take advantage of this time and perhaps even review the contract with an attorney who can advise the worker whether the terms are fair. Without such advice, there is danger of breaching the terms of an employment contract, which may have serious legal repercussions.

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