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Veterinary employment agreements
Becoming an associate gives you, the young veterinary, an opportunity to improve your technical skills and become more efficient under someone else's financial investment. You also get to witness how a veterinary practice operates and has the time to marshal capital for an eventual partnership or independent practice. The key to accruing these benefits, however, is ensuring that the right employment opportunity has been created.
Do I Even Need a Veterinary Employment Agreement?
Yes. A veterinary employment agreement provides the rules of your relationship between you and your employer. It also describes the recourse when someone breaks one of those rules. Without a veterinary employment agreement, the upper hand usually rests with the party with the most bargaining power, which in most cases is the employer, not you.
What Kind of Issues Should A Contract Cover?
Bear in mind that no two veterinary employment agreements are identical. However, some common issues include:
- Will you be an employee or an independent contractor?
- How will your production be measured?
- Will any deductions be taken out of your check, and how do you ensure these deductions are legitimate?
- Will there be restrictions against moonlighting?
- Under what circumstances can you be fired?
- Under what circumstances can you leave the practice?
- If you leave, will there be a non-compete restriction?
- What supplies, equipment, fees, insurance, or fringe benefits are covered under the agreement?
I'm Not in a Position to Bargain
Veterinarians considering employment often say that their agreement is not up for negotiation. But in our experience, this is rarely the case. Most employers are willing to consider reasonable alterations that create safer environments and reliable expectations for both parties. If an employer is unwilling to consider any alterations to the agreement, then you should take that as a red flag—attitudes toward employment agreements are strong indicators of how employers conduct the relationships with their employees.