Why you should have a lawyer review your employment agreement

Employment agreements, or a contract, is a written document that details many aspects of a physician working for a group. The agreement can have the physician as an independent contractor or as a paid employee. Beyond that, the devil can truly be in the details. Here are the reasons why you should have a lawyer look over this agreement before signing one.

 

  1. You need someone representing your best interests. A lawyer representing the group either wrote or was consulted in the creation of this document
    • It stands to reason that whoever writes the legal terms will in some way make it fare enough for the contract to be willing to be signed by the physician but still slanted slightly in their favor. Think to yourself, why would this company write a contract that gives the employee more advantages than the person writing it? Its always good to have someone who represents your best interests to look over the contract, so get your own lawyer. This also applies for pre-nuptial agreements, real estate transactions, and divorces just to name a few situations.
  2. Know what the job entails
    • The contract should spell out how many days you are required to work and how many shifts are day vs night. Also, knowing when you might be on call is also important as if its not written in the contract you may find yourself on call much more frequently than you wanted or expected.
  3. Non compete agreements
    • In some states these are not valid, however, in most states its still legal to have a non compete agreement. Know if you have one and legally if it is a valid agreement. The agreement must usually be something reasonable such as a small radius around the area of practice and not 200 miles. Knowing your non compete will help when you decide to leave the job as this may temporarily limit where you can practice
  4. Insurance
    • Have it spelled out who covers insurance while you are an employee and after you leave. Who pays for tail insurance, medical, and dental insurance?
  5. How can you be let go or fired
    • No one goes into a job expecting to be let go but its important for them to spell out the terms of how they can terminate the agreement that you have signed. There are terms for cause and without cause. For cause is usually when the employee has some sort of misconduct against the company policy or has in some way had a breach in the contract. Without cause is exactly what it sounds like, the company can fire you without reason that would fit under the for cause umbrella. In some states no reason for the reason for termination needs to occur, this is called termination at will. Know how you can can be let go and the contract terminated early and obviously avoid any activity that would lead to this outcome.
  6. Have the legal terms explained in simple terms
    • These employment agreements can sometimes be filled with so much legal jargon that it is really difficult to even understand what the sentence means in laymen terms. Even if the lawyer and you decide not to edit the contract, at minimum the lawyer should break the contract down and explain it in every day terms that are easy to understand. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about what something means
  7. Is it spelled out if, how and what it takes to become a partner
    • All the hard work and hours put in for the group are a way to prove that you provide a benefit to the company and that you can work well together. At some point, many groups will then have a period where employees can then apply to be a partner in the group and be eligible for profit sharing. Know what it takes to become a partner, or its after a certain amount of years or RVUs, it should be explained when you can apply to be a partner. Some will also include what the current buy in is, others will leave this vague as the buy in can vary from year to year.

One thought on “Why you should have a lawyer review your employment agreement

  • July 29, 2016 at 1:32 PM
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    As a former hospital chief medical officer who negotiated hundreds of contracts, I agree one hundred percent. Always involve an attorney. But still try to be reasonable and prioritize the issues that concern you and your attorney, because it is unlikely you will get every concession you request. Sometimes having your attorney and the employer’s attorney talk directly about esoteric legal concerns can help to expedite the process.

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