evaluating a job offer

Evaluating Your Job Offer

Before accepting a job offer (see Negotiating a Job Offer), you should evaluate all the provisions of the offer in writing. Because the employment agreement can affect your career long term, it may be in your best interest to find an attorney to review the document and give you legal advice on its provisions before you sign on the dotted line.

Here are Some of the Provisions to Consider

  • Employment – Be aware that the term “associate” is not a legal term. It means nothing more than, “a person who joins others in an activity.” You may be referred to as an “associate,” but you need to know if you’re considered an employee or an independent contractor.
  • Pay – You will probably be offered a base salary, but it may also include a percentage of revenue from new patients (see Negotiating a Job Offer) or incentives. Make sure you know how you will be compensated and when you will get paid.
  • Hours and Duties – A contract may specify your work hours and your duties. In some cases, your duties may include marketing activities for the practice, with the expectations that these be done in addition to the time you spend seeing patients. Remember: It’s to your advantage to bring in patients, so you may want to do these marketing activities anyway.
  • Insurance and Benefits – Make sure the employment agreement specifies who will be paying for your malpractice insurance policy. In some cases, the employer will pay for your malpractice policy as a benefit. Check to make sure you’re receiving the same benefits (medical insurance, holidays, and paid time off) as other employees in the practice.
  • Time off – Find out if you get paid vacation time. If the contract doesn’t specify, ask if the vacation will be paid, and at what rate. Note that if you’re on incentive-only pay structure, you may get “vacation,” but you won’t be paid for time off.
  • Seminars, Conferences and Continuing Education – These can be handle differently by employers. Many expect you to pay for seminars yourself. If the D.C. belongs to a practice-management group, he or she may pay for your attendance at its seminars and conferences. Typically, you will have to pay for your own continuing-education expenses.
  • Termination – Many employment contracts require you to provide 90 days’ notice if you want to leave. The contract should specify the conditions of termination and the type of notice the employer must give you, unless the termination is for cause.
  • Non-compete agreement. This is probably the most controversial part of any contract. Non-compete agreements usually take the form of a restriction on three factors:
  1. Scope of activity (practicing chiropractic vs. practicing a specific technique)
  2. Range of activity (prohibiting practice within a certain radius from the practice)
  3. Period of restrictions (length of time)

Some contracts also include non-solicit agreements, which limit you from soliciting current patients or employees after you leave.

If your contract does include a non-compete clause, make sure it’s reasonable. Don’t fall into the trap of signing a contract with an unreasonable non-compete clause thinking you can just get it thrown out by the courts later. To do that, you will still have to hire an attorney and fight it — an expensive and inconvenient process. Even if you win, you lose, because you’ve been shut down: you may have to rebuild your practice. You’re better off making sure the clause is something you can live with or try to negotiate it out of the contract before you sign. To find out more about non-competes in your state, go to Google and type in “non-compete agreement” and the name of your state.

Bottom line: Consult your attorney before signing any employment contract. It will be money well spent.

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