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Ask the Professionals - Nelson, Watson Professional Corporation

Heather - Nelson, Watson Professional Corporation

What pitfalls should be avoided with employee contracts?

One of the things that I see most frequently is employers not understanding the purpose of employment contracts, what areas of the law need to be covered and how they need to be worded. Courts have been very clear that in drafting an employment contract, anything that's offside in the law is going to be interpreted against the employer. That means you need a contract that's drafted by a professional, who knows what they're doing and is current because the case law when it comes to what you can put in an employment contract and how its worded changes pretty frequently. In the past couple of years, we've had some big waves in the employment contract world. And I've seen some employers get into some unfortunate situations when they’ve pulled something off the internet that either doesn't apply to Ontario, or isn’t worded properly, or they're using something outdated, something that predates I'd say 2021 is going to have a lot of problems too, or something that they've gotten from a professional that doesn't specialize in Employee Contracts. Because again, what you can put in and how you word it is important in terms of how it will be upheld. Another important thing to think about is the timing of an employment agreement. When you can give them to an existing employee, and when you give it to a new employee, all of that is highly technical. I think it's best to get some advice before you engage in any kind of contract that is going to limit or alter the rights of your organization.

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