Let's put it in writing: Why written employment contracts make sense

15 August 2022 Consulting.ca 2 min. read
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A comprehensive, written employment contract is a good way to protect the interests of a company as well as its staff, according to a recent article by Patrick Stepanian, a legal manager at HR consultancy Peninsula Canada.

Though employment terms can be provided orally, Stepanian says it’s still best to produce a written contract. A written contract clearly outlines expectations and responsibilities and can serve as a reference guide in the event of a disagreement. They also significantly reduce the risk of legal claims for the employer, and often include dispute resolution procedures to further guard against costly legal proceedings.

The basic terms that employers may consider including in a contract are: hours of work, job responsibilities, conditions of offer (background check), layoff clause, and termination clauses and policy. Valid contracts, however, must follow the minimum terms and entitlements of provincial employment standard legislation. Stepanian recommends that employers should stay up to date on terms and provisions in any provinces in which they operate.

Why written employment contracts make sense

Ontario, for example, recently passed a law that requires employers with 25 or more employees to have a written policy on right-to-disconnect.

Stepanian says that employers should give employees enough time to review the contract; should have the contract signed before the first day of work; should use clear, detailed language in the contract; and should update employment contracts to maintain compliance with changes in legislation.

“Well-written employment contracts do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to protecting your business,” he said. “The above points just scratch the surface. Reaching out and speaking with an expert is highly recommended to ensure your business is secure and any new workers you bring on are set up for success.”

Peninsula Canada has offices in Toronto and Vancouver and provides services in HR outsourcing, consulting, software, and management, as well as services in workplace health and safety.