Employment agreements – getting it right

Three key elements to consider when implementing employment agreements for current employees: consideration, duress and reliance
By Peter Israel
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 12/05/2002

Your employees are privy to sensitive information, but the company has no employment agreements in place to protect confidentiality or deal with terminations. Can you tell staff they must sign a written employment agreement that contains stringent confidentiality and termination provisions or they will be dismissed? Will the courts enforce agreements signed under those circumstances? The answer is yes…provided the proper steps are followed.

The terms of an employee’s oral employment agreement can be varied, and a new written agreement will be legally enforceable, as long as requirements for altering existing agreements under contract law are met. The three issues to consider when changing an existing agreement are: consideration, duress and reliance.

A recent decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal, in