An employment agreement is a legal document signed by an employee and their employer in order to stipulate different aspects of the working relationship. You are not legally required to sign an agreement, but an employer may not hire you if you refuse to enter into the contract. Employment agreements are becoming more complex and often include clauses that is intended to protect the employer in the case of an accident, not necessarily the employee. This means you could be signing away many of your legal rights if you do not review a contract carefully.
Consult with a maritime lawyer who can look over such a contract on your behalf.
There are both benefits and disadvantages for employees who consent to a contract. For example, while it can limit flexibility for both, it can protect employees from termination in certain cases.
Some of the aspects that are covered in these contracts include:
It is a common practice in the maritime and oil industries to ask workers to sign an agreement or release aimed at limiting compensation you can receive in the event of an injury or illness.
Besides clarifying the employer's right to fire the employee (should they fail to meet up to standards), it can also include information on sick leave, health benefits, and procedure regarding accidents and injuries. Sometimes, the company will ask you to sign a waiver in exchange for receiving payment of unearned wages or medical benefits.
Before you sign any documents, you should consult with an offshore injury lawyer who can assess the impact these documents could have on your ability to file a claim. If you are injured in a work-related accident, you do not want the employment agreement to decrease the amount of compensation you receive.
You also do not want it to take away your rights to file a lawsuit against your employer should they be the reason for your injuries. Any deviation from the terms of the contract could be a breach of contract so it is important to be completely happy with the agreement before you sign it.
Arnold & Itkin represented nearly a third of the crewmembers injured in the Deepwater Horizon explosion.
Because maritime law is so complex and so complicated, it is crucial that you work with an attorney who has an in-depth understanding of how it works and who has proven themselves in similar cases before.