Any business owner recognizes the importance of good staff hiring practices and the importance of good employees to the success of their business. What is often overlooked is the manner in which staff are hired and the use of formal offer letters and/or employment contracts. Formalizing the hire is beneficial in that it provides clarity as to the terms of the hire and the expectations of the business owner/employer.
Generally speaking, employment contracts are used when it is advisable to have the staff member contractually hired for a determined or promised term of employment and therefore not employed-at-will under Ohio law. This often applies to higher level managers and professionals such as dentists, lawyers, physicians, veterinarians, accountants, and other similar professionals. In these instances, employment contracts are often preferred because they require a commitment from the employee for a period of time such as a year or longer. The time commitment is important because of the integral nature of their work to the business to treat patients or work with clients. An employment contract will also include all of the other terms of the employment. If the business incorporates the use of a staff employment manual or handbook, the terms of the employment contract should control in the event any of its terms conflict with the terms of the employment manual.
For other hires where the staff member is to be considered an employee-at-will, an offer letter may be more desirable. In this instance, there is no promised term of employment and the business owner can maintain the ability to terminate at any time and without cause. Offer letters for employment should include all of the significant terms of the employment, such as the compensation to be paid, any benefits being provided, hours to be worked, position being offered, and the start date of employment. The offer letter, unlike the employment contract, should also be subject to any terms in the company’s employment manual and should specifically state that the offer is for employment-at-will.
If you are considering hiring staff for your business, the attorneys at Thomas Law Group can assist you in formalizing the hire for your specific business and the position for which you are hiring.