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What if an employer wants me to sign a contract?
Most people are hired without having a written contract. But an employer may want you to sign a contract.
A contract might include things like:
- your hours of work
- whether the job includes shift work
- where you will be working
- how much vacation you will get
- how much notice you will get if you are fired or laid off
Why an employer might want a contract
Here are some of the reasons why an employer may want you to sign a contract:
- The job is temporary and the contract says when it will end.
- You will be on probation.
- The employer wants you to agree to things that the law says you can agree to only if they are in writing, for example, different rules about overtime.
- The employer wants to limit what you can claim if they fire you.
- The employer wants you to say that you're an "independent contractor".
Reasons to sign a contract
If an employer wants you to sign a contract and you refuse, you might not get the job.
A contract could offer terms that are better than minimum employment standards. For example, an employer could offer you more than the minimum paid vacation days.
A contract could help prevent disputes between you and your employer about the terms of your job.
But a contract might not cover everything and it might have terms that are not legal. So the contract might not apply, even if you agreed to the things in the contract and signed it.
What needs to be in writing
There are some things that you can agree to only if they are in writing.
For example, there are basic rules about overtime pay. In most jobs, you earn 1 1/2 times your hourly pay for each hour of overtime that you work. But if you agree in writing, you can be given paid time off work instead of overtime pay.
Rights you cannot give up
There are some rights that you cannot agree to give up. For example, regardless of what you agree to in a contract, the following still apply:
- certain minimum standards in the Employment Standards Act, for example rules about minimum wage
- human rights codes
- occupational health and safety rules
- the right to workers' compensation benefits
And even if you sign something saying you're an "independent contractor", you still might have rights under the Employment Standards Act.