When you enter an employment relationship, your employment contract will outline your relationship with the company. There are laws that regulate how you must be treated, and your contract should be clear, legal, and acceptable.
If it is not, you can hire an employment lawyer to challenge it. The courts across Canada are willing to strike down employment contracts that are unfair or illegal. There are clauses you should look out for when you sign one. Take a look at the top 10 signs of an unfair employment contract.
1. Pay Attention to Probationary Periods
If your employment contract contains a probationary period, you should pay attention. This clause can allow them to terminate you for reasons that would otherwise not be acceptable according to law.
When you agree to this, they can dismiss you if they decide that you are unsuitable for the position. Not only that, but it gives them the right to fire you with minimum notice and pay. You should think carefully before agreeing to this.
2. Look for Contract Changes
Once you start a job, an employer is not allowed to significantly change the contract without your consent or an appropriate warning. However, if you go to court, the courts will look to your contract to determine if the employer acted correctly.
If there is a clause in your contract that allows employers to make changes without warnings or consent, they will find that you agreed to it, and you won’t have any remedy.
3. Consider Any Post-Employment Restrictions
When you are going over your contract, any post-employment restrictions should be carefully considered. While they are allowed to be in there, you don’t have to agree to them. If you do, you may not be allowed to solicit clients or work for competitors once you leave. In fact, they may be able to prevent you from working in the industry.
If you have a clause of this kind that is worded vaguely, you may have an unfair employment contract, and employment lawyers like https://www.employmentlawyertoronto.me/ who can help.
4. How Is Notice of Termination Handled?
There are laws that protect you in the event of termination. You are entitled to be treated fairly, and you generally should receive fair warning or severance. Employers can get around this by contracting out of the requirements. In this case, you will receive less than what is considered to be fair. You need to make sure that you read your contract so that you know what to expect.
5. Make Sure You Are Hired as an Employee
Sometimes, people sign employment contracts and think they have been hired as an employee. However, the contract may say that you are an independent contractor. There are very limited protections for independent contractors, so you need to know what it says.
However, if you are hired as an independent contractor, Canadian laws distinguish how you are controlled. The company can’t dictate how or when the work is performed, and you aren’t part of the company. If this happens and you think it is an error, you can consult a lawyer.
6. Get Pre-Employment Promises in Writing
If any verbal agreements aren’t in writing, an employer is not obligated to honor it. If you were promised bonuses, raises, vacation time, and more, you need to make sure that it is spelled out in your contract.
No matter what promises you were made, if they aren’t in the contract, the employer doesn’t have to fulfil them. Make sure that you get anything you want or expect in writing before you sign.
7. Is the Contract Clear and Easy to Understand?
If your employment contract is unclear or contains ambiguous language, it may be designed to be difficult to understand. This can cause the contract to be found invalid. If a court finds that the clauses are construed to deliberately mislead you or leave you unsure of what it says, they can award you in a dispute.
It is always best to make sure that you understand the contract and that the language is clear, but if you find yourself in a position where something unexpected happens, you can consult an employment attorney and fight it.
8. Did You Sign the Contract Under Duress?
Signing an employment under duress is grounds to invalidate it. There are a number of ways that this can happen. First, they may actually coerce you into signing it. If you sign a contract against your will, it isn’t valid.
If you have requested time to get legal advice and been denied, or if you simply weren’t afforded this right, that can be considered signing under duress. If you were told to sign it or risk being fired, that isn’t allowed either. These situations violate Canada law, and your contract can be invalidated.
9. Your Wages Are Below What Is Legally Required
Canada law requires that you be paid at least a minimum wage, and this can only be improved upon in a contract. The employer can agree to pay you more, but they can’t pay you less. The same applies to vacation pay, holiday pay, and overtime.
Employers are unable to contract out of these obligations, and if they try to, you may have an unfair employment contract. For example, your employer can give you more vacation pay, but they can’t give you less than the basic amount required by law. If they do, the contract is invalid and unenforceable.
10. Your Employer Can’t Demote You
If your employer wants to make changes, such as demoting you to a lower position or changing your working conditions, you could be entitled to remedies under the law. Even if your employer is going through issues outside of their control, they have certain obligations that they must live up to.
A meaningful change in the workplace can be considered a constructive dismissal. If this happens to you, you may be entitled to compensation. Employers have an obligation to give you sufficient notice if they want to make changes, and they should ask you if you agree.