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Who to Consider for a Review of Contracts
Employment contracts must be signed with confidence that all the expectations of the position are communicated. There are a number of things that should be reviewed and ascertained as to their legality, thus, how do you review a contract? Such things as benefits, paid time off, starting salary, and schedules must be effectively laid out. The best person to review these matters is an attorney. Lawyers have the knowledge and experience to review contracts and to put any concerns to rest about the document.
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Contract Review Checklist
Every new job offer is unique. However, nearly all contracts for employees should contain several essential legal terms. If these essential legal terms are not spelled out in contracts, disputes can arise when there is a disagreement between the parties as to the details of the specific terms. For instance, if the employee is expecting to work Monday through Thursday and the employer is expecting the provider to work Monday through Friday, but the specific workdays are absent from contracts; who prevails? Spelling out the details of your job is crucial to avoid conflicts during the term of your employment. Below is a checklist of essential terms that contracts should contain (and a brief explanation of each term):
- Practice Services Offered: What are the clinical patient care duties? Are you given time for review of administrative tasks? How many patients are you expected to see (like in pediatrics)?
- Patient Care Schedule: What days and hours per week are you expected to provide patient care? What is the surgery schedule? Are you involved in the planning of your schedule?
- Locations: Which facilities will you be scheduled to provide care at (outpatient clinic, surgical sites, in-patient services, etc.)?
- Outside Activities: Are you permitted to pursue moonlighting or locum tenens opportunities? Do you need permission from the employer before you accept those practice of medicine related positions?
- Disability Insurance: Is disability insurance provided (short-term and long-term)?
- Medical License: Will the practice offer reimbursement for your license? Will an advisor be provided?
- Practice Call Schedule: How often are you on call (after hours office call, hospital call (if applicable))?
- Electronic Medical Records (EMR): What EMR system is used in the practice of medicine? Will you receive training or time to review the system prior to providing care?
- Base Compensation: What is the annual base salary? What is the pay period frequency? Does the base compensation increase over the term of the Agreement? Is there an annual review or quarterly review of compensation?
- Productivity Compensation: If there is productivity compensation; how is it calculated (wRVU, net collections, patient encounters, etc.)? Is there an annual review?
- Practice Benefits Summary: Are standard benefits offered: health, vision, dental, life, retirement, etc.? Who is the advisor of human resource benefits?
- Paid Time Off: How much time off does the job offer? What is the split between vacation, sick days, CME attendance and holidays?
- Continuing Medical Education (CME): What is the annual allowance for CME expenses and how much time off is offered?
- Dues and Fees: Which business financial expenses are covered (board licensing, DEA registration, privileging, AMA membership, Board review)?
- Relocation Assistance: Is relocation assistance offered? What are the repayment obligations if it is terminated prior to the expiration of the initial term?
- Signing Bonus: Is an employee signing bonus offered? When is it paid? Do you have to pay it back if you leave before the initial term is completed?
- Professional Liability Insurance: What type of liability insurance (malpractice) is offered: claims made, occurrence, self-insurance?
- Tail Insurance: If tail insurance is necessary, who is responsible to pay for it when the document is terminated?
- Term: What is the length of the initial term? Does the Agreement automatically renew after the initial term?
- For Cause Termination: What are the grounds for immediate termination for cause? Is a review provided to dispute the termination?
- Without Cause Termination: How much notice is required for either party to terminate the Agreement without case?
- Practice Post Termination Payment Obligations: Will you receive production bonuses after the Agreement is terminated?
- Non-Compete: How long does the non-compete last and what is the prohibited geographic scope?
- Financial Retirement: Is a financial retirement plan offered?
- Non-Solicitation: How long does it last and does it cover employees, patients, and business associates?
- Notice: How is notice given? Via hand delivery, email, US mail, etc.?
- Practice Assignment: Can the Agreement be assigned by the employer?
- Alternative Dispute Resolution: If there is a conflict regarding the terms, will mediation or arbitration process be utilized? What is the standard review process for conflict? Who decides which attorney oversees the process?
Check What Should be in Employment Contracts?
There are many things that need to be included in an employment offer. Many ask: What Should be in an Employment Contract? An attorney is needed to ensure they are not only included, but the wording and legality of each point is intact. Some of the things that need to be included follow:
- Classification of the employee – whether an employee or an independent contractor
- Benefits and compensation – outlining the benefits and compensation package, salary or hourly pay, etc.
- The employment schedule – whether employment is for a set term or if it is ongoing
- Sick days, time off, vacation policy – clearly explaining time off, how many sick days and how many vacation day are accrued
- Conditions and terms of termination – explaining how either party will terminate the working relationship
- Requirements after termination – any restrictions on an employee who has left the organization
- Confidentiality agreement – ensuring the business trade secrets and other sensitive information is protected
Putting Business Concerns to Rest
When getting a contract review, any pitfalls will be found and fixed. The review will include:
- A term-by-term review
- Negotiation of points with employer
- A full general contract review
A contract review is vital to get the stress taken out of the process when you are going to enter into a new business today. A professional contract review will then allow you to relax and not worry about such matters. An attorney doesn’t have to be an expert in the specific industry the contract covers — he or she simply must know the basics of contracts and how to word them effectively and how to make them legally binding.
What Happens if no Professional Analysis Takes Place?
When you don’t have a professional review and are signing a contract, risks can be large. The impact of a contract signed with no review can affect your personal life as well as your professional life. It can mean the following:
- Poor benefits package
- Not enough vacation time or paid time off
- Too small production bonuses
- Unfair non-competes
It’s worth it to find out how much a lawyer will charge to review a contract, because a review service can be vital when about to sign a contract. Ultimately, it is always a good idea to have an expert take a look at any binding legal document to ensure everything is airtight. A contract lawyer will look at the wording and format because they need to be very specific in order to be legally binding. Costs vary depending on a number of factors.
Why Hire a Lawyer
When hiring a lawyer to review your contract, you are getting their years of experience and knowledge. You, of course, want the best deal you can get and by having a professional look over the wording, format and points of interest, you will be confident that the contract will contain what is needed. It might cost something, but in the long run it can save you a lot of money over a long period of time.
The Legal Cost Depends on Various Factors
What your legal fees will be for a contract review depends on a number of things. Some of the factors it depends on are:
- How long the contract is
- The complexity of the contract
- If you also need help with drafting the contract
- What the lawyer needs to look for within the text
- The rules and regulations in your particular industry
- The number of parties involved and signing the contract
Overall Costs of Reviewing a Contract
Lawyers will typically either charge a flat rate or an hourly fee. The flat fee may be determined after the lawyer looks at the contract and determines how much time will be involved. The hourly fee usually depends on the lawyer’s expertise, but it can be anywhere from $100 up to $750 per hour. Sometimes you can get off with a less expensive review if there is a very simple question and you just want the lawyer to explain some matters to you.
If you don’t want to take on the risks of not reading a contract, getting a lawyer is the best way to go. The price you pay can save you a lot in the long run, so it will be worth it.
Employment Agreement Attorneys
You should take no chances with signing a contract without a proper and thorough review. An attorney can take a contract, completely review all aspects of it, and ensure the contract is worded correctly, agreements are improved and important points will be negotiated as needed.