An employment contract is one of the most important documents you will ever sign.

Yet so many employees do not fully understand the terms and conditions that their employment contract stipulates.

Here is what you should know before signing your new employment contract.

What Are Employment Contracts?

Employment contracts are legally binding agreements that employers and employees enter upon the offer and acceptance of a new job position.

Standard employment contracts contain information regarding:

  • the job expectations and responsibilities;
  • compensation in terms of the job description;
  • required working hours;
  • overtime; and
  • vacation or leave entitlements.

In BC, the Employment Standards Act governs the minimum number of requirements that should appear in workplace employment contracts.

This means that your employment contract can offer more benefits and additional rights than what is contained in the Employment Standards Act, but it cannot list anything less.

What Are the Minimum Employment Contract Standards Proposed By the BC Employment Standards?

The purpose behind having a law that governs BC employment standards is to ensure that all employees receive fair treatment in the workplace. The standards also set out to promote:

  • open communication;
  • adequate working conditions; and
  • a sufficient work-life balance.

Minimum requirements set by the BC Employment Standards Act, that should appear in your employment contract, include:

  • minimum wage;
  • maximum daily hours;
  • minimum hours free from work;
  • severance pay upon termination;
  • maternity and parental leave;
  • child employment;
  • termination of employment notice; and
  • conditions of employment.

An employment agreement that is entered into with no regard to the minimum level of benefits will be regarded as invalid.

For example, a provision that provides for a shorter termination notice period than what is covered in the Employment Standards Act is not valid.

Must an Employment Contract Be in Writing?

An employment agreement can be established in written contract form or verbal form.

Although having a written contract is not a requirement for a valid employment relationship, we always advise seeking a record of your employment agreement for the purposes of clarifying:

  • job expectations; and
  • the employer’s obligations to you.

Written employment contracts also aid in preventing disputes that may arise between you and your employer.

Employment Contracts and Wrongful Dismissal

While the employer can dismiss their employees for a variety of reasons, that termination should accord with what was promised in the employment contract. If employees are not dismissed in a manner that is consistent with the contract, this may result in a wrongful dismissal.

Where your contract stipulates a valid termination clause, your employer should follow that clause when terminating employment.

Sometimes, termination clauses are not enforceable for a variety of reasons. Please speak to an employment lawyer if this is something you would like assessed.

The legislation contained in the BC Employment Standards Act applies to all employees in BC.

If you believe your employer has terminated your employment without providing enough notice or payment in lieu of it, this could be considered a wrongful dismissal.

Make sure to read about wrongful dismissal to understand your rights and arrange a consultation with an employment lawyer.

Key Takeaways

If you’re about to enter into a new employment relationship, here is what you need to know:

  • there are certain minimum employment standards that you are entitled to under the BC Employment Standards Act;
  • contracts can be written and verbal; and
  • you should consult with an employment lawyer if you’re unsure about the validity of your employment contract and feel like you have no received what you are supposed to at the end of your employment.

At Arghandewal Law, our objective is to ensure that you are being treated fairly at your workplace. If you feel unsure about the terms of your employment contract or if you believe you have been wrongfully dismissed, get in touch today.