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I am a full-time employee, and my employer has extended me the offer of a new contract, should I wish to accept it, which offers a guaranteed pay rise, in exchange for an additional clause which places an additional restriction upon my right to terminate my contract of employment, meaning I am effectively unable to seek work anywhere else, for a period of 2 years.

The pay-rise is substantially more than I would expect, should I not sign, and most likely more than I would be offered for equivalent work at another company. I am also very happy with my employer, and do not particularly intend to move for the next 2 years in any event.

However, in my spare time I am studying a post-graduate qualification, which potentially significantly boosts my future career prospects. I will have completed the first half of that course in the next 18 months, and will receive a certificate indicating as such, which will go on my permanent academic record. There is no signal that my employer intends to leverage my new qualification when I have completed it, which means that to make the most of it I will quite likely need to look further afield.

Given all of this, I am leaning towards accepting the new contract, since it guarantees a pay increase in excess of 12%, and whilst it takes away my right to terminate for a period of two years, I am unlikely to seek employment elsewhere in that time anyway.

Does anyone have a contrasting point of view?

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    A contract that dictates that you CAN'T work ANYWHERE else for 2 years seems rather dubious to me and likely isn't legally enforceable. A company can't prevent you from earning a living. Are you sure that this isn't a non-compete contract... which is something altogether different from what you've described. – joeqwerty Dec 4 '19 at 20:25
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    What country, state/province is this? – dustytrash Dec 4 '19 at 20:46
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    Guaranteed employment for 24 months while you spend 18 months finishing your grad work only leaves 6 months to worry about. A very short time in the grand scheme of things. Signing this contract commits you for 24 months; what protections does it give you if the company lets you go? – spuck Dec 4 '19 at 21:18
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    The company wants to lock you in for 2 years yet it doesn't think that the substantial raise alone is enough for you to stay? Sounds fishy to me, I would not sign such a clause and would start looking elsewhere for employment. – sf02 Dec 4 '19 at 21:57
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    Can they still terminate it, or are they obligated to keep you on board as well? – Andy Dec 4 '19 at 23:41
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Investigate the following:

  • Why they are so interested in locking you in? Is it just something they do with all employees? Are you going to be stuck on some crappy legacy project? Are you about to start a time sensitive project where they do not want delays? Will you be handling corporate secrets, so they do not want you jumping ship? Are there just a few developers, making the bus factor low?
  • What circumstances may cause you to need to leave? Do you have a parent who lives far away and may need care? A spouse who may need to move for their career?
  • Under what conditions does the contract terminate? Do they guarantee employment for two years no matter what? Can you be fired for cause (presumably)? Can you be made redundant? What happens if they want to cut your pay? Is the decision to extend the contract mutual or can it be done unilaterally by someone?

We cannot make the decision for you, but these are things you should consider in making the decision.

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    I've heard of non-compete clauses, but guaranteed employment? How would that work? What if they try to make you do something illegal? Or work 140 hours a week? – Nelson Dec 5 '19 at 3:10
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    @Nelson it is more accurately guaranteed pay as long as the non-compete clause is in effect. Non-competes are frowned upon because they can deprive a person of a way to earn a living. If a company really still wants the non-compete, they can guarantee that the person will be paid their salary for the duration of their non-compete. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garden_leave – Matthew Gaiser Dec 5 '19 at 6:03
  • @Nelson it is generally only offered to people who have access to a lot of highly secret information. – Matthew Gaiser Dec 5 '19 at 6:06
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It is a math decision and I think it is clearly saying you should stay.

From what I understand, it will take you 18 months to complete your additional education. Even if you got a job right after your education is complete, you will only have 6 months left on this 2 year contract.

With the two year contract you will earn an extra 12% per year, or a total of 24%.

If you don't take a contract, complete your education, and get a job right away, you will need to receive a 48% salary increase for this decision to be equivalent. This makes a lot of assumptions that may not be true. For example your employer may bump your salary further during your two years, or they could make use of your new education.

If it was me, I would lean towards signing the contract, unless this would also require to take on additional responsibilities that would stop you from continuing your studies.

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  • I'm not sure this is as simple as a question of mathematics. OP also has to factor in that if they decide they want to leave for any reason in that two years, they will probably be liable to repay the additional pay. Say a year into this arrangement, the employer decides to enforce a compulsory overtime clause in the contract and insist OP works 100 hour weeks, or they decide to relocate OP across the country. There are plenty of legitimate reasons not to lock oneself into a clause like this. The question is also whether the extra 24% justifies accepting those risks. – delinear Dec 5 '19 at 14:49
  • a 12% increase followed by another 12% increase is not 24%. I wouldn't bother, but since you confidently stated this is a "math decision", I figure you should get your maths straight. So if you start with 100k, you then get 112k after a year, then 112 * 1.12 = 1.2544k ( not 1.24 ). – bytepusher Jan 10 at 17:34

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