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Employment Law for Nanaimo Small Businesses

Although the law in British Columbia permits either party to end an employment relationship at any time for almost any reason, disagreements often arise about what constitutes reasonable notice and what a former employee can or can't do with the skills, information, and contacts acquired on the job once the job has ended.

Clarifying each parties' expectations through the use of a written contract at the start of a relationship deters conflict. Both parties benefit.

Employment Contracts: Both Parties Benefit

Benefits to employers include:

  • deter litigation at the end of an employment relationship;
  • reduce the risk that a court will award costly damages in the event of a wrongful dismissal action;
  • protect competitive advantage through the use of non-compete provisions;
  • protect against the misuse of confidential client information or proprietary business models;
  • outline the employee's duties and required level of performance; and
  • provide the grounds for dismissal if these standards are not met.

Benefits to employees include:

  • provide an opportunity to negotiate wages, benefits, bonuses and other terms;
  • protect against sudden changes to the nature of employment;
  • clarify the duties and expectations of the employer, preventing misunderstandings;
  • provide an opportunity to obtain legal advice about the nature of the agreement; and
  • avoid disputes about entitlements on dismissal.

Employment Contracts and Unequal Bargaining Power

Although governed by the law of contract, employment contracts are viewed as a special form of contract due to the difference in bargaining power that often exists between an employer and an employee. This means that the court may take particular latitude in reading in terms, specially where contracts are unwritten. These implied terms can lengthen the reasonable notice period, or impose unexpected duties.

When written contracts are used in this unequal bargaining power context, employers can be vulnerable to charges that the contract is unenforceable. To limit this vulnerability, the best practice is to forward a draft contract to the employee prior to the start of the employment relationship, giving the employee time to review the contract, raise any issues with the employer, negotiate any terms, and obtain legal advice before signing the contract.

Speak With a Nanaimo Small Business Employment Lawyer

Nanaimo small business employment lawyer Sabrina Yeudall advises employers and employees throughout Vancouver Island regarding employment contracts. Contact Sabrina at Candid Legal if you need assistance with negotiating or drafting a new contract, evaluating whether a proffered contract is in your best interests, or determining your rights and duties under an existing contract. Call (250) 585-1595, email , or complete our online information form.

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