Planning on providing existing employees with new employment contracts or offer letters for the first time? If the new contracts or offer letters intend to limit an employee’s entitlement to working notice or severance, from an enforceability standpoint, there are many issues that first must be considered. For example - Is the employee being provided with fresh “consideration” (i.e. something of value) in exchange for agreeing to the new terms of employment? Will the employee have sufficient time to review and consider the new terms of employment, as well as seek independent legal advice if he or she wishes?
If these enforceability issues are not properly addressed, an employer will not be able to take advantage of the notice or severance-limiting provisions, which is often the main reason why employers ask employees to sign contracts or offer letters to begin with. Failure to consider these enforceability issues could result in a nasty surprise for the employer, if the employee is ever terminated without cause.