Employment contracts must be tailored for security and growth

Employers often provide agreements for employees when the new person starts his or her employment. In Illinois and throughout the country, there is controversy about the appropriate use of employment contracts for lower-level or essentially unskilled workers. It's claimed that waivers of the right to sue the employer, arbitration mandates and non-compete agreements in these situations are confiscatory against the few basic rights possessed by the poor and the weak.

If you're a small business owner, you can avoid becoming embroiled in such conflicts by obtaining guidance from experienced business law counsel. The agreements don't have to set the tone for future conflict. Knowledgeable business law counsel can evaluate your situation and draft acceptable, workable employment contracts only for those employees who need one.

A business law firm that's experienced in numerous corporate and small business environments can help you evaluate and tailor your needs while also giving the employee a reasonable degree of flexibility. In the long run, that strategy not only hampers high turnover, lawsuits and arbitration claims. It also builds employee morale and a healthy corporate culture to drive the success and growth of your small or mid-size business.

There's admittedly a current trend to make it more difficult for an employee to voice concerns or to make legal claims where appropriate or necessary. Several academics at major business universities see this happening, but they criticize the confiscation of all legal entitlement for employees. This approach also stifles employee creativity, industriousness and loyalty.

Additionally, court decisions can always swing back the other way. The tide can change on the Supreme Court, for example, by the simple resignation of one Justice and the appointment of a successor. Furthermore, lasting success for the small or mid-size business is more and more dependent on the kind of employer-employee culture that is developed.

In Illinois or any other state, the nature of initial employment contracts can define the employment relationship. It can be adversarial and take unconscionable advantage of the employee or, in the tradition of the great growth companies, it can promote employee identification, creativity and loyalty to the company. Ultimately the latter approach increases the bottom line of business profits far exceeding modest inconveniences that may occur.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Contracts, court rulings giving employers legal upper hand," Alana Semuels, July 5, 2013

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