It’s easy to miss red flags in contracts when you’re a young professional, which is why we’d like to help you spot a few.

One-way indemnity clause

If you’ve read through an employment contract before, you’ll likely see a section that specifies the consequences you may face as an employee should you breach (break the rules) your employment contract. This is fair, but only if it goes both ways- i.e., what happens if your employer breaches the contract. This is known as a two-way indemnity clause, instead of a one-way one.

Ownership of intellectual property

In this case, intellectual property means the work that you do for the company for the duration of time that you work for them. Sure, the work you create while you’re there will be seen as the work that the company has created, even though it may’ve been your creativity and insights that made that possible. That’s sometimes just the ballgame in the corporate world, however, you should still be allowed to use your work in your personal portfolio. If your contract considers that a breach of contract- that’s a red flag. Make sure you understand what the policy for this is to avoid getting yourself in a serious legal battle with your employer.

Pressure to sign

Usually when employers put you under pressure to sign a contract, they have something to hide and are hoping that you’ll miss it. You’re allowed to provide your lawyer (or someone you trust with such matters) with your contract and get a second, professional opinion. It’s actually advisable to do this so that you don’t miss the red flags. But even with that said, don’t start any job without signing your contract once you fully understand it.

Incomplete contracts

Contracts should always be complete. Once you have to verbally ask your employer about the basic and standard things a contract should have- that’s a giant red flag. Verbal conversations don’t hold as much water as written agreements, which is why contracts exist in the first place. Having a paper trail of everything helps everyone stick to their end of the bargain. Some of the most basic things an employment contract should always entail are, but not limited to the following: The employee’s job title and role; location of the company or office; the scope or nature of work; the name of the direct supervisor; form of remuneration and how much (i.e., annual salary, hourly wage); and eligibility for health and other benefits. Some of these may change over time, and should that happen, a new contract must be drafted to match the new changes.

Don’t allow the excitement of finding a job make you rush. This can make you feel trapped or land you in situations that require legal action. Have you heard of any employment contract horror stories? Share them with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, to help your peers avoid making the same mistakes.

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