A work contract is just like any other contract, which means you can negotiate the terms that it contains.
There are many parts of an employment contract that may be up for negotiation and some that you should definitely try to adjust, especially if you have a senior position or a lot of experience. Not making the effort means you could be leaving money on the table.
But as any employment lawyer will tell you, negotiating your work contract can mean much more than a bigger paycheck.
Where to Begin
Contained in an employment agreement is how much you'll get paid. But contracts also typically spell out your work responsibilities, which activities you are or aren't permitted to do, and what happens if you leave the job or get fired.
If you're hoping to get a better compensation package, don't be afraid to bring it up with your boss. But make sure you do it the right way. For example:
- Before you make your request, make sure you have some reasons as to why you deserve more money or benefits. Collect any positive comments about your work along with positive performance reviews to bolster your claim.
- Keep in mind that your boss can say no to your request; if that happens, be respectful. Hopefully your boss will respect your bravery, but if you don't get your raise, at least don't give him a reason to regret the conversation.
Where to Turn Next
For a standard contract, you're probably safe trying to go over the terms yourself. But in some cases you'll want to turn to a professional.
Having an attorney go over the details of your contract means that you'll know where you stand with your employer and what is expected of you. It also provides you with some protection if your job goes sour.
But busy lawyers may not want to spend the time doing a simple contract review, and you may not want to fork over hundreds of dollars for it either.
That's where a personal legal plan can come in handy. Some, like LegalStreet's plans, offer unlimited contract reviews (up to 10 pages) as part of a prepaid package that also includes unlimited phone consultations with local lawyers. The plans are affordable; LegalStreet, for example, works out to less than $13 a month.
An employment contract isn't necessarily a take-it-or-leave-it deal, so don't treat it like that. Negotiating the terms of your contract, and getting a lawyer to look it over, can give you more control over your relationship with your employer.
(Disclaimer: LegalStreet and FindLaw.com are owned by the same company.)
- 10 Rules for Negotiating Work Contracts (ODesk)
- Sing To Stay: Employment Contract Renewal Time for American Idol Judges (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Do You Need to Give 2 Weeks' Notice to Quit a Job? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Want a Raise? Top 5 Tips for Salary Negotiation (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)