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Summer is here, and business own should be polishing their employment contracts for seasonal hires.
Here are the five must-have clauses for any summer employment contract:
1. Length of Contract (Term of Employment).
It's important to be as specific as possible in defining the duration of a summer employee's contract, so that there is no ambiguity as to when the position ends. A termination clause can also be folded into this area of an employment contract, specifying how either you or the summer hire can terminate employment with or without notice.
Don't just gloss over this step. Be very exacting in describing the kind of compensation that a summer hire will receive. Include whether the employee will be paid hourly, salaried, or per completed project, as well as any benefits included with the position. This may be a good place to include your summer hire's vacation policy, which does not have to include paid time off.
3. Independent Contractor or Employee?
Unless you want to a future IRS audit of your hiring practices, you should be very careful in defining the hire as an employee or an independent contractor. For independent contractors, make sure that your summer hire contract explicitly states:
4. Non-disclosure Agreement.
Summer hires may be privy to a great deal of sensitive information, so you need to include a non-disclosure agreement in each contract. In exchange for the position, this clause can keep a seasonal employee from blabbing company secrets or dirty laundry -- so long as the scope is reasonable.
Your summer employment contracts should all have arbitration or mediation clauses, which will force employees and contractors to submit to mediation or arbitration if a legal issue arises. These clauses are almost always upheld by courts, even if they appear very unfair to employees. However, you can make it clearer in the contract that by agreeing to the arbitration or mediation clause, the summer hire is giving up the right to a jury trial.
If you need any help drafting these contracts, contact an employment law attorney.
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Editor's Note, May 31, 2016: This post was first published in May 2014. It has since been updated.