Written employment contracts are the backbone of most employment relationships in Ontario. A good employment contract confirms all of an employee’s entitlements pursuant to the ESA, and, ideally, confirms that the employee will receive more. We know that an employer and employee can agree to negotiate for better benefits than exist in the ESA and that an employee cannot contract for less. The written employment contract is proof of the parties’ agreement with respect to the terms of employment.
So what do we want to see? First and foremost, we want to see an enhanced termination provision promising the employee more notice, severance and benefits than those available in the ESA in the event of a without cause termination. After that, the employment contract should include each and every perk and benefit offered during the recruitment process: bonuses, benefits, remote access, flex hours, equity, options, you name it: if you talked about it during the interview process, be sure it makes its way into the final employment contract.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate – most of the time salary, title, and overall compensations are up for discussion. The employer liked you enough to offer you the job, now’s the time to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible. You can ask for enhanced severance, extra vacation, to waive a probationary period, to get benefits faster.
Especially if you are leaving secure employment to accept another position, go see a lawyer to have the employment contract reviewed. There are certain protections we can talk about if you’re being induced away from an existing position based on promises with a new employer. Best practice will be to have all new employment contracts reviewed with counsel to ensure you’re getting everything you are expecting.
Author: Ellen Low, Partner at Whitten & Lublin