By Christopher E. Brown, J.D., and George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
This blog is the fifth in a series intended to provide an introductory review of the basics of contracting for physicians and health professionals, primarily by discussing employment agreements. We will highlight many of the common provisions found in employment contracts, along with many of the mistakes and pitfalls that we see in our day-to-day practice.
By the end of the series it is our hope that physicians and other health professionals will understand the common language and terms found in employment contracts for professionals so they can recognize mistakes commonly made by physicians and health professionals when negotiating them. We hope to help make both employers and employees more knowledgeable about employment contracts so they can avoid potential problem areas and legal entanglements.
Our comments here are meant to provide general rules we have learned from our experience. However, please remember, every situation is different and there are exceptions to every rule.
Tip 11 – Consider Clauses That Allow the Employer to Terminate the Agreement Without Cause on a 30 Day or More Notice.
Many agreements contain a clause allowing one party or both parties to terminate the agreement “without cause” by giving advance notice of so many days.
With such a clause in your contract, you no longer have a one or two-year agreement. Instead, you have a 30 day, 60 day, 90 day or 180 day contract.
Termination without cause provisions can work for you or against you. Regardless, the term of employment is shortened if there is one. Think about whether or not you can find another job and relocate in 30 days.
Tip 12 – Include a “Cure” Provision If There Is a “For Cause” Termination Provision in the Contract.
This a provision which requires the employer to provide you written notice of any deficiency or breach and allows you a certain period of time (usually anywhere from 10 to 30 days) to cure it.
Tip 13 – Be Specific in a Promise to Make You a “Partner” or “Shareholder.”
A promise to make you a “partner” or “shareholder” in the practice after a certain period of time will not be enforceable unless all of the terms are specified in order for a court to enforce it (price, timing, percentage of ownership, method of payment of the buy-in, etc.). Think of an option to purchase a house. Unless all of the terms for a binding contract are set forth in writing and agreed to by the parties, it will not be enforceable.
Also remember that a promise to “consider” you as a “partner” or “shareholder” in a contract is just as worded. You may be considered and denied this important opportunity.
More Blogs on Contracting to Come.
In our future blogs, we will continue to provide tips on various issues to watch for in health care employment contracts.
Contact a Health Care Attorney Experienced in Negotiating and Evaluating Physician and Health Professional’s Business Transactions.
At the Health Law Firm we provide legal services for all health care providers and professionals. This includes physicians, nurses, dentists, psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health counselors, durable medical equipment suppliers (DME), medical students and interns, hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, pain management clinics, nursing homes, and any other health care provider.
The services we provide include reviewing and negotiating contracts, preparing contracts, helping employers and employees enforce contracts, advice on setting aside or voiding contracts, litigation of contracts (in start or federal court), business transactions, professional license defense, opinion letters, representation in investigations, fair hearing defense, representation in peer review and clinical privileges hearings, litigation of restrictive covenant (covenants not to compete), Medicare and Medicaid audits, commercial litigation, and administrative hearings.
To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
As a physician, do you have any questions about contracts? Tell us your mistakes or triumphs in negotiating your contract below.
About the Authors: Christopher E. Brown, J.D., is an attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.
George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.
“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
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