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I just recently accepted a job offer and was sent the official employment agreement that I need to sign. I was reviewing the document and I noticed a clause that said I may be required to make occasional business travel both domestic and international. It also says I will have an up-to-date driver's license, an up-to-date passport, and have access to my own vehicle for transportation purposes and that I should remain legally able to travel internationally.

This caught me off-guard because this wasn't mentioned in the job posting, formal interview, etc. - also please note that this is a remote work.

I currently don't have a valid passport because I recently became a Canadian citizen and didn't renew my old passport from my home country because I wanted to get a Canadian passport instead. I believe it only takes a few weeks to get a Canadian passport so that shouldn't be an issue.

My main issue is the driver's license and having access to my own vehicle. I haven't driven in over a decade now and I might have to go through driving school again and get a new license which will take months (I believe 9 months) before I can get a full license. Also, the reason why I stopped driving was because when I was younger I was very reckless and I almost got my entire family into a terrible accident. Ever since then, every time I tried to drive again I just couldn't feel confident being behind the wheels anymore and I didn't want to risk my life and other people's lives for that matter. I've been taking public transportation for over a decade now. It is still in my plans to finally get back to driving but I still don't feel that comfortable yet.

Anyway, how do I ask my potential boss about possibly needing a few weeks to get my passport sorted out and maybe needing many months to get a driver's license? And how do I phrase it so that I can convey that I'm not comfortable driving at this time and which may not change in the near future as well? How do I ask if this is a deal-breaker for them? Or is this something that they can possibly drop off of our agreement?

Also, would I get in trouble if I just sign this document and submit it to them knowing that I am in breach of this particular clause?

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  • Where is your current driving license from? Is it from your Canadian province? Driving licenses very rarely need additional school, unless a court has mandated that you do that, but if you haven't exchanged your foreign license for a Canadian one that will be a problem. Apr 22 at 18:15
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    Is driving part of the job? Other wise that seems an onerous burden, you should just be able to prove your have a reliable means of getting to and from work, public transit and carpooling seem like reasonable options.
    – cdkMoose
    Apr 22 at 20:37

5 Answers 5

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It's best not to sign something you know is false.

You certainly don't need to go into the nitty gritty, but you should indicate that you don't have a drivers licence, nor a passport, but you are willing to travel domestically and internationally.

Generally companies don't like to amend contracts. But it's worth noting that contracts can be amended via additional agreements if both parties agree. So if you get it in writing that they are happy for you to travel via public transport in leu of driving, and also that they are happy for a minor delay in you having your passport, that will cover you legally.

If they insist you get a drivers licence, and a passport, that's probably a bit of a hint to you that the parameters of the job are not what you've come to understand.

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    "Generally companies don't like to amend contracts" - is that true? As an employee I've almost always had something I wanted changed in a proposed contract, and negotiated on it. Never heard a bad word about it nor caught any bad winds, it's just been treated as business. (Rightly so in my opinion). Apr 22 at 16:09
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    @AdamBarnes Larger the company the less they will like to. HR at larger companies struggle with managing/tracking subtle differences that any given contract might have. I have seen large companies after mergers go out of their way to get everyone on the exactly same worded employment contract rather than manage two versions (even when it meant giving employees better benefits and thus costing the company more).
    – Anketam
    Apr 22 at 16:21
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    Size of the company is a variable I hadn't considered, thank you. Apr 22 at 16:27
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    @AdamBarnes an extra data point if it helps, I have had a big company tell me "We expect you to violate the terms of your contract as part of your job, just ignore it. Somebody made that clause to 'protect the company' and they won't let us reword anything in the contract." I kinda think some contracts aren't enforced (and aren't worth the paper they're printed on). It's not worth anything if the people making the rules don't talk to the ones that enforce it. May as well make a contract saying "you are not allowed to breathe on the job".
    – jrh
    Apr 24 at 21:02
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    And as a counterpoint at a small company I only had to sign the bare minimum for me to be legal to work. Rumor has it at some point they tried to get people to sign more restrictive agreements and they all successfully negotiated out of those clauses without much difficulty.
    – jrh
    Apr 24 at 21:09
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Anyway, how do I ask my potential boss about possibly needing a few weeks to get my passport sorted out and maybe needing many months to get a driver's license? And how do I phrase it so that I can convey that I'm not comfortable driving at this time and which may not change in the near future as well? How do I ask if this is a deal-breaker for them? Or is this something that they can possibly drop off of our agreement?

Just ask. Be honest. There are no special phrases you need to use, just use your own words. Indicate that you don't have a current passport, and that you don't drive. See how they respond.

Most likely you'll find that this isn't a real issue, and is just generally included in these contracts.

But if it's an issue, it's best for both sides to know about it up front and decide how to deal with it going forward.

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You shouldn't ask, but tell.

Tell them that you are not willing to drive, but you are ok with travelling using public transport.

Also tell them that you do not own a car, and do not wish to own a car, but you are ok with travelling using public transport.

Also tell them that you do not currently have a passport, but you are willing to travel internationally, given the necessary time to arrange what's necessary.

Finally, I would ask them to simply scrap that article from the contract, or adjust it to something you are 100% comfortable with. You are partners in this contract, and everything written in the contract has to work for both of you.

Many companies hire stupid lawyers to write these contracts, which supposedly offer maximum protection for the company, when in fact they only increase the chances of later litigations, because they don't match the actual understanding at interview between the employer and the employee. Yes, the company will be covered in that future litigation, but at the cost of losing a perfectly good employee. I applaud you for actually reading the contract carefully. Everything in that contract has to work for you as well. Many employers will say that's their standard contract. To which you should reply that you're not comfortable with it, and that the contract should reflect the actual custom work relation you would have with them, not some standard work relation.

I understand that you have some psychological issue regarding driving and that's why you don't want to drive. You don't have to, and you probably shouldn't tell them your reason for not wanting to drive, but you should tell them that you don't want to drive. If that's a deal breaker for them, it should be for you as well. Think about it. Is this job worth your mental health, or worse?

Regardless of whether they accept the changes in the contract, it's a win-win for you.

Be polite, but firm about what you're comfortable with and what should go in the contract. Otherwise, best case scenario, you'll get to hate yourself for putting yourself in a situation you knew very well you're not comfortable in.

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    This is the right answer. You don't need to mess around. Just say "I don't drive and I don't own a car, so can you please remove clauses 6.1 and 6.2 from the contract?". I've asked for clauses to be removed from a contract before, and it's usually not a problem. IF they've already decided that they want to employ you, AND there's no real reason for you to need a car, THEN they're not going to let you walk away over this. Apr 25 at 0:20
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There is a good chance that this is just a boilerplate catch-all phrase that made it into the contract template a long time ago.

Your best bet is to just ask. I would lead with not having a car. Asking an employee to have a passport and a license can be considered reasonable, asking them to get a car (when they don't need one otherwise) is not.

I would tell your hiring manager that you don't have a car and that you were not planning on getting one. Ask if that would a problem and why. There is a really good chance that they will simply remove the phrase from the contract. Removing the car should also remove the need for a license unless you are expected to drive company vehicles.

If they insist on you having a car, you will have to make a difficult decision but I think this would be unlikely. These days many people don't have cars for all sorts of reasons (money, sustainability, etc.) so it may be time to change the boilerplate anyway.

In terms of the passport, you can amend the contract noting that you currently don't have a passport and will apply for one. A passport is a good thing to have for all sorts of things.

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    Depending on how much driving is involved, renting a car can be significantly cheaper than taking taxis, etc everywhere; so that might be something they'd really prefer people be able to do themselves. Apr 22 at 11:25
  • These days Ride Share is another good alternative to a rental, but I agree. But then again, requiring people to drive when they don't want to is iffy (even just for liability reasons) and I have never seen an employer do that
    – Hilmar
    Apr 22 at 11:52
  • Yes I do plan on getting a passport anyway, I've just been super busy lately because I just moved to a different city as well. Apr 22 at 13:31
  • It really depends a lot on the job. On some jobs which involve frequent visits to customers, suppliers, partners, branches or whatever else, in areas with poor public transport, having your own car and/or being able to drive may be a legitimate requirement. For, say, a software developer working remotely, really not.
    – jcaron
    Apr 25 at 12:05
  • @DanIsFiddlingByFirelight, you need to look at insurance. It is very likely that your car is not insured if you use it for work. And whether driving to the airport for work is insured, I wouldn't be sure of that.
    – gnasher729
    Apr 25 at 12:28
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If those conditions are a deal-breaker for you, explore the notion of simply crossing them out on the contract. Find out from your potential employer if that's going to be an issue. If you're a remote worker, it's possible that the contract is just "standard" language the company used prior to hiring remote workers. The language there totally doesn't make sense for a remote role.

Lastly, always keep a copy of whatever you sign.

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    Note that if the contract is to be counter-signed by the other party, they must also initial any manual modifications. So you absolutely can't sneak changes in (not that you're suggesting this at all). Best to start a dialogue around the changes required, and get the contract reprinted, as this can avoid some confusion. Apr 22 at 17:37

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