Employment Agreement

What are all the documents an employer asks you to sign?

Mar 14, 2023

Continuing from our last post covering the post-offer contract review workflow, we’re diving deeper this week into what documents you’re typically presented with after the verbal offer. As we’ll see, the offer letter is just the tip of the iceberg.

The Iceberg of Employment Contracts

The contracts presented to you can be broken down into 3 categories:

Employment: Documents affecting your day-to-day responsibilities at the company

  1. Offer Letter: An overview of your position and employment terms, first establishment of the formal relationship between employer and employee

  2. Employment Agreement: A formal, legally binding contract that details the rights and obligations of both parties which can be presented as an Offer Letter or a standalone subsequent document

  3. Confidential Information and Inventions Assignment Agreement (CIIAA): A description of what constitutes as confidential information and intellectual property, and your responsibilities towards both items, sometimes separated into multiple documents or in the form of a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)

  4. Non-Compete Agreement (if applicable, as these agreements are illegal for California employers): A restriction of your ability to work for a competing company or start a competing business during and/or for a period of time after leaving

Equity: Documents governing your equity grants and how they are administered

  1. Equity Grant Agreement: Award document with the quantity, price, and terms of specific equity being granted to you

  2. Equity Incentive Plan: Equity governance plan adopted by your employer to administer the grant, exercise, sale, etc. of equity

  3. Equity Exercise Forms: Form for you to exercise your equity, including applicable additional forms in the case of Early Exercise

Other Materials: Documents that may not always require signatures, but impact your employment

  1. Tax Forms: Documents such as W-4 for withholding taxes and I-9 for verifying eligibility to work in the US

  2. Benefits: A list of benefits such as healthcare and 401(k) provided by the company

  3. Code of Conduct/Employee Handbook: A packet that covers your employer's policies and procedures, including disciplinary procedures, harassment policies, and other conduct you must abide by

Don’t sign until you’ve reviewed every document!

Despite all the documents you’ll need to eventually sign, they’re rarely presented together. It’s not uncommon to be asked for a commitment via phone, followed by the request to sign an ‘exploding’ offer letter with an expiration of 1~2 days. However, just as you’ve just gone through multiple rounds of interviews answering your potential employer’s questions, it’s time for them to do the same for you:

  1. Ask for all contracts requiring your signature up front

  2. Understand, Contextualize, Negotiate

  3. Make your best decision based on all the facts

I’m lucky to have resources like my MBA career advisors and an employment lawyer family friend, but when my hiring manager was pressuring me to sign quickly, Ask Ginkgo's quick turnaround time gave me the sanity check I needed before committing.

- Product Manager, FAANG Company

For advocacy and beyond!
The Ask Ginkgo Team

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