Studies show that the United States has a wage discrimination problem and that the COVID-19 health crisis only exacerbated it. This is why if you are about to accept a job offer, it’s important to know that your rights will not be trampled on in this new profession and that you know all of your options before you say yes. Here are some essential pointers you need to do before signing on the dotted line.
Read the employment contract over and over again
Here are some red flags you need to watch out for when going over your employment contract:
- One-way indemnity clauses or a kind of provision that assigns expense or risk in the contract is breached. This provision details what your employer is legally allowed to do or asks if there has been a breach in your contract. While indemnity clauses are understandable, they shouldn’t just go one way; the provision should also state what steps you can take if your employer is the one in breach. If the contract only states how your future boss may take steps against you in the case of a breach and not the other way around, consider that a red flag.
- Non-compete clauses or agreements are common in employee contracts, but these conditions need to be reasonable. Your future boss should not have the right to pursue legal action against you just because you choose to work somewhere else. Some signs of a fair non-compete clause should include a limited amount of time and within a reasonable distance from where you used to work.
- If the employers are not giving you enough time to review and think about it, and if there’s high pressure to do so, that could be a red flag as well. For your safety, you should never sign a contract that you’re not comfortable with or have not reviewed thoroughly.
- Another sign you need to re-think the job is if the contract requires you to sign away ownership of any creative work or intellectual property. While this is a fairly common provision in employment contracts, you should still have the right to use the work you produce as part of your portfolio or for other purposes. Read the contract twice over to ensure that you won’t get in trouble or that you won’t be in breach if you use your work outside of this specific job. Make sure the conditions upon which you can use your intellectual property are clear before you sign anything.
- Check the privacy clauses. Once again, these provisions are normal since companies want to ensure that their projects will be safe and protected before they’re launched, but agreeing to this provision might prevent you from using your ideas in other companies you work for later.
- Watch out for non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) as well. Oftentimes, these clauses are used to hide toxic or abusive work environments.
Consider enlisting the help of a contract attorney if you see any of these red flags. They can help you weed out reasonable clauses from those that won’t protect your interests.
Check if the company is compliant with labor laws
While you might never know if they are until you start working for them, you can try asking their employees about their experience, or if you have friends who used to work for them. Ensure the employees don’t violate overtime pay and minimum wage requirements and that they’re respectful of their employees’ time when they’re on leaves. Another thing to take note of is the workplace—are the employees protected from various kinds of hazards that might compromise their health and safety? The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) was passed to ensure safe workplace conditions for workers. It is your constitutional right to work in a place where you don’t have to worry about your safety and health.
Some other factors you need to observe include:
- The people. They’re the ones you will spend most of your time with, so make sure they’re respectful and treat you with dignity.
- The environment. Observe if it’s the kind of culture you will thrive in.
- The benefits. Check if the company provides dental, flexible, health, and retirement plans. If they don’t, it’s only one of two things: Either they’re a small company, or they’re struggling.
And lastly, trust your gut. After you have objectively weighed the pros and cons, you can also take time to listen to your gut. If you walk into the final interview and something feels right (or wrong), listen to that. Good luck!