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Should you accept a job offer without a written contract? The answer is an emphatic no. The employee contract is an arrangement between a company and an employee which sets out the hiree's employment rights, the employer’s expectations and the job obligations. The job offer and the subsequent written contract are only the first steps in a process designed to mutually benefit the employee and the company. Written contracts should contain a detailed description of job duties and expectations.
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Do Not Rely on Job Postings
Companies evaluate each applicant's skills using information obtained from a written resume or application to determine if the applicant is a proper fit for the company. Likewise, the employee must ensure that the job fulfills financial, career, or other goals using information obtained in the written contract. Applicants, in some cases, mistakenly refer to a job posting as a true indicator of the terms of a position. Regardless of the details of the job posting, the employee is expected to adhere to the requirements contained within the signed contract. This is true even if the contract differs from the posted job description.
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The Problem with Oral Agreements
It is common for some applicants to rely on oral job descriptions as well. Oral job descriptions can cause serious misunderstandings between the company and the employee. Human resource officers move, change positions or even leave the company. Words may be misinterpreted by the employee, or they may simply imply false promises. So, should you accept a job offer without a contract? The best way to ensure a clear understanding of job requirements, description, and compensation is to have it in writing.
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Understand the Employee Contract
Salary and other financial compensation should be clearly outlined in the contract. If the contract is vague or contains ambiguous terms, then request a written clarification before signing the contract. This is generally done when the employee officially acknowledges the job offer. The term acknowledging job offer simply means sending a written acknowledgment of receipt of the job offer. This communication usually thanks the employee for their offer and requests time to review the employment terms. The employee will then ask for clarification of any unclear portions of the employee contract.
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Never make assumptions concerning unclear terms on the employee contract. Consult an attorney if any portion of the contract is difficult to understand. Keep in mind that some employers offer incentives such as sign-on bonuses to employees when they sign a contract. The employee must repay those bonuses if he terminates his employment early due to a misunderstanding of the contract.
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When the employee contract is signed the employee and the employer both have a mutual understanding of the expectations. If the contract is violated by either the employer or the employee, in some cases, remedies may be enforced. Remedies can include additional fees or other penalties depending on state law and terms of the contract.
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Bureau of Labor Statistics http://www.bls.gov/oco/oco20046.htm
Bernard C Dietz Esquire "Employment Contracts Everyone needs premise protection" http://www.asktheheadhunter.com/gv050701.htm
ESC New England http://www.opnocsne.org/Nonprofit_Employment_Articles/how_to_evaluate_a_job_offer.htm