When you are considering accepting an employment contract, you should evaluate all the provisions.
“¢ Employment. First, 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 are considered an employee or an independent contractor.
“¢ Pay. You will probably be offered a base salary with incentives for additional work. Some employers only pay incentive, which is difficult when you are just starting out. Remember that with incentive-only contracts, you aren’t paid if you can’t work or if you have to take time off.
“¢ Hours and duties. A contract may specify your work hours and your duties. In some cases, your duties may include marketing activities, with the expectations that these be done in addition to the time you spend seeing patients.
Remember: You’re being paid extra to bring in patients, so you’ll want to do these marketing activities anyway.
“¢ Insurance and benefits. Some employers require you to purchase your own malpractice insurance. This may not be bad, since it’s very inexpensive in the first few years, and you can take it with you when you leave.
You should receive the same benefits (medical insurance, holidays, and paid time off) as other employees in this practice.
“¢ Time off. Some employers provide paid vacation time. If they don’t specify, ask if the vacation will be paid, and at what rate. Note that if you are on incentive only, you may get “vacation,” but you won’t be paid for time off.
“¢ Seminars, conferences, and continuing education. Employers have various ways of handling continuing education; most expect you to pay for seminars yourself.
If the doctor belongs to a practice-management group, he or she may pay for your attendance at its seminars and conferences. You probably will have to pay for your own continuing-education expenses.
“¢ Termination. Expect to be required to give notice if you want to leave, so the doctor can find a replacement. Many employment contracts require 90 days’ notice.
The contract should also specify on what basis you can be terminated and the employer should give you notice unless the termination is for cause.
“¢ Non-compete agreement. Most employment contracts include a non-compete agreement, which states you may not work in a chiropractic practice within a certain number of miles from the office for a specified number of years. Some also include non-solicit agreements, which limit you from soliciting current patients or employees.
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.
Why might you consider associating? Read “Private Practice or an associateship?” at studentdc.com/associateship.
Should you associate for a while before starting into your own practice? Read “Deciding on private practice vs. employment” at studentDC.com/decidingemployment.
A noncompete agreement is probably the most controversial part of any contract. Learn what’s reasonable to expect from this agreement from “Signing a noncompete agreement” at studentDC.com/noncompete.