Help me decipher parts of my job contract please?

I just got a contract for a new job: a junior FX trader, which I am ultra happy to start but there are some very peculiar parts on the contract that kind of make you raise an eyebrow.

First, it says in big bold letters that I have been advised to seek legal counsel that will explain the contract to me (which I probably will), and this sentence already has me thinking there is some stuff in there is odd.

The bit of sketchy information:

  1. “In consideration of the payment of $2.00 by the employer to the employee,the employee herby releases and forever discharges the employer from any claims, causes of action, demands, damages, costs or entitlement to compensation of any kind in respect of anything existing or arising prior to the employment commencement date and agrees that all of the rights of the employee with respect to the employer are as set forth herein.” (Does this mean they are going to pay me $2.00 up front to absolve them of the things listed on the contract?)

  2. “The employee may terminate his employment on 45 days’ notice in writing to the employer” (lol, isn’t it supposed to be 2 weeks?)

What does this mean?

Also, I live in the Greater Toronto Area (Vaughan), anybody know any cheap lawyers that can help me decipher this stuff?

Thanks guys

Hey Statusone - Not sure if this will help given there may be a substantial wait, but no harm in contacting some schools with pro bono services:

Otherwise I’d look into a Jane Harvey office (they’re a cheap alternative and have multiple locations).

The first part says that anything you agreed on previously (verbal or signed) is void and replaced by terms that are “set forth herein”. I guess they are covering their ass in case someone said something before that they were not supposed to.

The second part is pretty clear, but yeah, 45 days is kind of weird. At least you know what you are signing though.

Of course, if you don’t feel comfortable, it can’t hurt to get a real lawyer to look at the contract.

Great, thanks guys.

Ohai, yeah the 45 days is so odd. I think they want their employees to think twice before jumping ship.

django, thanks for the links. I emailed a bunch of lawyers in my area and I got quotes from $275 to $400. YEAH, let me work off a whole month before I can afford that consultation lol. I will try your links

Agreed with ohai on #1 – seems innocuous enough, more just to cover their a$$es.

On #2 – 45 days’ notice is too long. The thing I would ask an attorney is what would be the consequences if you left sooner. Most probably, what would happen is that if you wanted to leave, they would tell you that you didn’t have to come into work anymore for 45 days but you’d be put on “gardening leave,” meaning you couldn’t bring your services and knowledge immediately elsewhere because you are still under the terms of their employment. This is frequently done to prevent employees from bringing trade secrets elsewhere.

I don’t have a legal background but this is my opinion based on similar contracts I have seen in the past. Lastly about their recommendation for you to consult with a lawyer, I think it’s just another way for them to cover themselves but my guess is that much of the contract will turn out to be fairly boilerplate and you have the option to accept or decline. I’d be curious to hear what the lawyer ends up making of this, if you end up going to speak to one.

I’d say great, so long as I get 45 days notice on your end prior to termination.

Hmm. Interesting, especially the bit about gardening leave. Which sucks either way I guess because you won’t be able to seek employment for a month and a half…

I won’t be going to lawyer because this is a minimum wage job and it would take me 2 weeks of work just to afford this lawyer, but I will ask them to clarify before I sign it, because afterall, their lawyers wrote it, and the ceo must know what’s in the contract.

Yeah, I mean they’re probably just saying to go over with the lawyer just because it’s a procedural, cover-their-tail thing in case there is some sort of issue. Are you sure this is a “minimum wage” role though? If it were, why would they make you give 45 days notice rather than the standard two weeks (at least in the U.S.)? Ask them why, and try to negotiate with them. If they say it’s procedure, then ask if they can give you some more base compensation – never just “Take” what you’re given, always see if you can pull some other lever if they insist on the 45 days.