Veterinary Contract Lawyer: Veterinary Contract Review for Employment Contracts
Chelle Law provides Veterinarian Contract Review for veterinary associates entertaining a new job or renegotiating an existing veterinary employment agreement. You have worked hard to develop your skills and deserve to advance in your professional career with a fair market value agreement. So, when you are about to enter into an veterinary agreement, getting veterinary agreement services before signing is vitally important. The terms of the agreement will impact your practice and your day-to-day life. Attorney Robert Chelle can analyze your agreement, identify the areas that could be improved and assist you in negotiating the best veterinary contract possible. Each veterinarian that requests Mr. Chelle’s expert assistance receives:
- Available in any state
- Flat-rate pricing, with no hidden costs
- Review of your proposed employment agreement or agreements
- Phone consultation reviewing the contract term by term
- Follow up with a review of the needed clarifications
Veterinary Contract Negotiations
Veterinary contracts are a pervasive and obligatory part of every job search for veterinarians. Well-drafted veterinary contracts help to enumerate the responsibilities of the involved parties, divide liabilities, protect legal rights, and insure future relationship statuses. These touchstones are even more crucial when applying their roles to the case of a veterinarian employed by a veterinary hospital, corporate owned group, or private veterinary practice. While veterinary contract drafting and negotiation can be a long and arduous process, a search for quality legal representation is a must in order to ensure that your rights are being protected before you start your new job and sign a new veterinary contract. The present day conclusion is simple: Veterinarians should not sign a veterinary contract without having the agreement reviewed by legal counsel. For instance, concerns include: license defense, veterinary board policies, employee salary increases, attorneys fees, salary negotiations upon expiration on the associate agreement, AVMA fees, etc.
Veterinary Practice Contract Checklist
Every veterinary employment contract is unique. However, nearly every veterinary contract for health care professionals should contain several essential terms. If these essential terms are not spelled out in the agreement, disputes can arise when there is a disagreement between the employer and employee as to the details of the specific term. For instance, if the Vet is expecting to work at the practice Monday through Thursday and the employer is expecting the provider to work Monday through Friday, but the specific workdays are absent from the Agreement; who prevails?
Spelling out the details of your job is crucial to avoid conflicts during the term of your employment. Below is a checklist of essential terms that veterinary contracts should contain (and a brief explanation of each term):
- Practice Services Offered: What are the veterinarians’ clinical patient care duties? Are you given time for administrative tasks?
- Patient Care Schedule: What days and hours per week are you expected to provide patient care and have patient contact?
- Locations: Which facilities will you be scheduled to provide care at (outpatient clinic, surgical sites, in-patient services, etc.)?
- Outside Activities: Are you permitted to pursue moonlighting or locum tenens opportunities? Do you need permission from the employer before you accept those medicine related positions?
- Veterinary License: Will the veterinary practice offer reimbursement for your license or assist in license defense for the veterinary board?
- Practice Call Schedule: How often are you on call (after hours office call, hospital call (if applicable)?
- Electronic Medical Records (EMR): What EMR system is used? Will you receive training prior to providing care?
- Base Compensation: What is the annual base salary? What is the pay period frequency? Does the base compensation increase over the term of the Agreement?
- Productivity Compensation: If there is productivity compensation; how is it calculated (wRVU, net collections, patient encounters, etc.)?
- Practice Benefits Summary: Are standard benefits offered: health, vision, dental, life, disability, retirement, etc.?
- Paid Time Off: How much time off is offered? What is the split between vacation, sick days, CME attendance and holidays?
- Continuing Medical Education (CME): What is the annual allowance for CME expenses and how much time off is offered?
- Dues and Fees: Which business expenses are covered (licensing, DEA registration, privileging)?
- Relocation Assistance: Is relocation assistance offered? What are the repayment obligations if the Agreement is terminated prior to the expiration of the initial term?
- Signing Bonus: Is an employee signing bonus offered? When is it paid?
- Professional Liability Insurance: What type of professional liability insurance is offered: claims made, occurrence, self-insurance?
- Tail Insurance: If tail insurance is necessary, who is responsible to pay for it when the Agreement is terminated?
- Term: What is the length of the initial term? Does the Agreement automatically renew after the initial term?
- For Cause Termination: What are the grounds for immediate termination for cause?
- Without Cause Termination: How much notice is required for either party to terminate the Agreement without cause?
- Practice Post Termination Payment Obligations: Will you receive production bonuses after the Agreement is terminated?
- Non-Compete: How long does the non-compete last and what is the prohibited geographic scope?
- Non-Solicitation: How long does it last and does it cover employees, patients, and business associates?
- Notice: How is notice given? Contact via email, US mail, etc.?
- Veterinary Practice Assignment: Can the Agreement be assigned by the employer?
- Alternative Dispute Resolution: If there is a conflict, will mediation or arbitration process be utilized?
Breaking an Agreement with a Non Compete
Veterinary non compete contracts were originally considered as restraints of trade, and thus were invalid on the grounds of public policy at common law; however, many restraints of trade incident to veterinary contracts were upheld based on the rule of reason. Thus, restrictive covenants between veterinarians not to compete after termination of employment are generally enforceable as long as it is reasonable.
However, there are a few states which prohibit veterinary non compete contracts. Please check your state laws for veterinary non compete contracts to see what the specific rules for your state are. The general test for reasonableness of non-competition agreements holds that on termination of employment, a covenant which restrains an employee from competing with his former employer is termed reasonable if:
- The restraint is not more than required for protecting the employer,
- It does not inflict any untold of hardships to the employer, and
- The restraint is not injurious to the public.
Non Compete Law
For instance, in Ohio, a non-competition clause was unreasonable when it was noted that a provider’s sub-specialty was uncommon, and that it would be harsh if the restrictive covenant was enforced as the hospital where he was precluded from practicing was only one of the few institutions in the area where he could practice his specialty.
Thus, in Ohio, covenants restraining providers from competing with his employer on termination of employment is considered unreasonable if it inflicts untold of hardship on the veterinarian, is injurious to the public, if the demand for the veterinarian’s medical expertise is important for the community people and if the veterinarian’s services are important for the health, care and treatment of public. However, non-competition clauses for veterinarians, in general, are enforceable as long as they protect some of the employer’s legitimate interests.
DVM Employees Concerns
Veterinarians face much risk when they take veterinary contract matters into their own hands. Veterinary contract terms are highly negotiable and have a great impact not only on professional life but also on lifestyle, family and the future. There are many important veterinary contract terms and clauses which can present new complex and diverse issues for any Vet, including:
- Unfavorable call schedules
- No assistance in license defense
- Small Production Bonuses
- Lack of Benefits
- Not enough paid-time-off
- Not enough vacation time
- Unfair Non-Compete
- Inadequate professional liability coverage
Veterinary Contracts Lawyer
When your veterinary contract is analyzed by an experienced attorney, you will find financial benefits which end up outweighing the cost of the review. Leave it to the experts. If you are in need of assistance with a veterinary agreement or contract analysis schedule a Veterinarian Agreement Review with Chelle Law today!