Do I Have to Read the Contract?



When you sign up with new recruiters or companies, you have to sign lots of new contracts.

Sometimes, these agreements can span multiple pages. They are always written in a hard-to-understand legal language, and may not be easily digestible. I have seen contracts upwards of 20 pages.

Contracts have to be written this way because recruiting companies need to make sure that the end users will not be harmed in any way.

The answer is yes, you do have to read all contracts before signing – and I mean every contract from NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements) to Terms of Service. Furthermore, you must understand some legalese in order to fully comprehend the terms you agree upon. Not reading the contract could harm your business in the long run.

I guess most of this is about trust (or lack thereof). Ideally, the other party should not add anything ‘fishy’ in the fine print, but you never know until you actually read it. Better safe than sorry!
There are certain parts of any contract that should be read with utmost attention.

Areas you should pay attention to:

  • What is the length of time you agree to commit yourself to the agreement/terms set out in the contract
  • Rate (daily vs hourly) and payment terms; a lot of time can pass before you get paid
  • Expenses and methods of reimbursement
  • Travel time
  • How to report worked time and deadlines
  • Liability – how much can you be obligated to pay if you screw something up – I haven’t heard about any such case, but it may be a good thing to have an insurance
  • Who will own the rights to your work – most often, your work will be owned by the client
  • Disputes – where, when, and how will they be handled

Some things may change in case of contract renewals. It would be nice to have a standard followed by everyone to avoid misunderstandings (though most such contracts look alike). I believe that a small fact sheet containing a summary of the contract, payment terms, and liability insurance would also be helpful.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you think contracts could be improved by the use of clearer language, an overall standard format, and a fact sheet containing a brief summary of the terms?

Disclaimer: The information displayed on this website is for general information purposes only. For detailed and accurate advice regarding contracts, service agreements, and liability, you should seek out professional advice.

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