When an Illinois employee is hired to fill a necessary, long-term position, it is customary for that employee to sign a permanent employment agreement. While permanent employment agreements are generally protective of the rights of both the employer and the employee, it is a good idea to have a knowledgeable employment attorney, like Diana Servos of S.T. Legal Group, look over such documents before signing.
Diana frequently assists employees in clarifying the meaning of ambiguous phrases in permanent employment agreements so that they don’t sign up for something that is not in their best interests. As a well-respected, capable employment lawyer in the Chicago vicinity, she also assists employers by designing and drafting permanent employment agreements to meet their particular needs.
What “Permanent” Means in a Permanent Employment Agreement
Although in conversation the word “permanent” means everlasting, in the contest of employment agreements it means “until either the employer or the employee decides to end the working relationship.”
Illinois is an “at-will” state in which an employer can fire an employee for any reason or for no reason at all — unless the firing is discriminatory or retaliatory — and, of course, the employee also has the freedom to end the working relationship. So, permanent in this case simply means that there is no fixed expiration date when the contract is signed and that its stipulations will hold throughout the employee’s tenure at the job.
You should be aware that full-time permanent employees work between 35 and 40 hours a week, while part-time employees work fewer than 35 hours per week. Nonetheless, both can work under permanent employment agreements. Independent contractors, on the other hand, work under a fixed-term contract at a per-diem rate or for a predetermined fee.
The Essentials of a Permanent Employment Agreement Review
Permanent employment agreements cover all the basic parameters of what is expected of both the employee and the employer as defined by the employer. Though the employer sets the limits, changes can be introduced if the employer agrees to amend the contract. This is why it is invaluable for employees to have their own employment attorney check the document for clauses that are vague or too restrictive.
Permanent employment agreements typically cover most or all the following:
- Salary and work hours
- Benefits (e.g. healthcare insurance, retirement plans,
paid time off, bonuses, other perks)
- Work duties and break periods
- Probationary period, typically 90 days, during which the employee
can be terminated if not considered “a good fit” for the company
- Responsibility to keep company information confidential,
especially the company’s intellectual property*
- Performance Reviews
- Paid Time Off — holidays, vacations, sick days, personal days
- Unpaid Leave, including Family Leave Time
- Termination, including what constitutes “sufficient cause,” if and when severance pay can be expected, and what property must be returned to the employer at termination
*In some cases, the agreement will include a non-disclosure/non-compete section for a specific period of time after the employee has left the company.
As previously stated, since all these factors of a permanent employment agreement may directly impact or restrict the employee’s life going forward, and may also impact the company in beneficial or harmful ways, it is best to have the document examined and approved by skilled employment agreement attorney before signing.
Diana Servos has dealt with a great number of permanent employment agreements and knows precisely where the possible sticking points are. Therefore, she can make sure the wording of the document protects you from future problems.
The Majority of Workers Are Permanent Employees
Some types of work (e.g. writing, illustration, carpentry, house-painting) lend themselves to contractual agreements, and for some individuals, there are benefits to working freelance in terms of tax deductions or the freedom to work for many different employers at a higher rate of pay.
Studies show, however, that although many workers may do some freelance work in addition to their permanent employment (e.g. rideshare driving), the majority of employees work under permanent employment agreements.
Advantages of a Permanent Employment Agreement
The benefits of signing a permanent employment agreement are significant and include:
Financial Security and Predictability
It is difficult to overstate the stability a steady income provides. Long-term job security, barring unforeseen circumstances, gives you the ability to plan expenditures, vacations, and your future. It also prevents you from having to hustle for the next source of income while you
are busy working.
Knowing that you will be earning a salary long-term enables you to do things like purchase a house or car, plan for educational expenses, take a trip or restructure debt with confidence. It is always simpler to obtain credit when you have the job security a permanent employment agreement provides.
In addition, with a permanent employment agreement in place, your taxes are withheld automatically so you don’t have to worry about making quarterly payments. Also, if you lose your position (unless the termination was for cause), you will be able to collect unemployment insurance.
Independent contractors are on their own when it comes to negotiating wages, purchasing health insurance, saving for retirement, and dealing with periods of illness. Permanent employees are more fortunate. They have the benefits of employer-sponsored health insurance, paid time off for sick days, personal days, holidays, and vacations, and a pension besides — luxuries independent workers are not entitled to.
Increased Job Opportunities
Working under a permanent employment agreement is likely to give your resume a boost since your employers, should you decide to leave, will be able to attest to your loyalty and commitment and to the strength of your skills. As a permanent employee, you may also be given opportunities for paid training, further education, bonuses, and promotions, expanding your future options.
Being Part of a Team
If you are employed by a well-run company, you will also have the benefits derived from being a member of a functional, supportive team in which everyone is working toward a common goal. This makes for a productive work environment, a sense of camaraderie, and a pleasant, friendly workplace.
Contact Our Experienced Employment Lawyer Today
As excited as you are to have landed a new job, don’t throw caution to the winds. Take the time to consult with a highly skilled employment attorney like Diane Servos to make sure the permanent employment agreement you sign today will not cause you trouble tomorrow. Whether you are an employee or an employer, contact us now to find out just how helpful she can be.