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At my current workplace I am being offered to sign an employment-agreement which has a life-long consequences. Specifically it says that even after the termination from the workplace I will still have some obligations to the company. And I am not quite comfortable with it.

I expect to have no obligations to the company after the termination plus some limited time (e.g. 12 months).

Specifically the agreement says:

Facilitation of Agreement. Consultant agrees to execute promptly, both during and after the end of the Relationship, any proper oath, and to verify any proper document, required to carry out the terms of this Agreement, upon the Company’s written request to do so.

I'm not quite comfortable with the and after the end of the Relationship part. I don't want them calling me after 5 years and claiming anything.

I haven't signed any employment-agreements with such phrasings before in my life so the question is: is it (a life-long obligation) a common practice or something extraordinary? If it's something extraordinary I can try to negotiate the removal of this phrasing.

Update: the company is located in the State of Delaware U.S.A. though I live in Russia and I'm going to work remotely.

  • @AdamV the agreement is supposed to be signed with the company located in the State of Delaware U.S.A. though I live in Russia and will work remotely. – Kolyunya Sep 17 '15 at 17:02
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    Does it outline how you will be paid for time you put into fulfilling the obligation? If they won't budge on the language, you could ask for explicit terms of payment when fulfilling the obligation. Something like $500 an hour :) – mikeazo Sep 17 '15 at 17:06
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    That sounds incredibly stupid. If they need you after 10 years, where would they send their written request if you have moved to a different location? What would they do if the letter returns undelivered? Send you a legal notice, also to the same address? I don't really get how such things are handled in the US, perhaps they would sue you for changing address without informing them. – Masked Man Sep 17 '15 at 17:20
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    Is it part of a non disclosure agreement or something similar? I can think of a few reasons why they would want an open ended obligation. It really depends on what sort of work you're expected to produce and what the company itself is involved in. – Kilisi Sep 17 '15 at 19:59
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    That wording about oaths makes me think they're trying to ensure that if they ever end up in a lawsuit that requires you to testify, that they can get you. That strikes me as peculiar. – Monica Cellio Sep 17 '15 at 20:50
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First, yes, many companies have open ended forever clauses in their contracts. Courts don't always enforce the forever part, and companies don't often try to either. If you're telling people my 20-year-old secrets, what do I care that the NDA is still technically enforceable?

Second, you can always try to have your contract amended. But if I'm just about to hire someone and they suddenly object to a clause dozens of other people have accepted, I may just move on to the next candidate.

Third, if your concern is putting in a lot of unpaid time, then put in something about being paid for any time needed past one hour or something. In all likelihood this is literally about the time to sign something that says "I wrote/invented that thing and I agree that the company owns it." This is not making you write something. Just read it and sign or execute it. I've had clients come back to me years later and ask me to sign such a thing and of course I did. It's the right and helpful thing to do and it takes only minutes.

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is it (a life-long obligation) a common practice or something extraordinary? If it's something extraordinary I can try to negotiate the removal of this phrasing.

Whether or not this is common probably varies greatly from field to field. For example, I can't see this being a common thing for fast food restaurant employees.

But a clause like this in a contract can greatly help a company protect itself. For example, if you are working for a drug manufacturer inventing a new drug to cure some very widespread disease, they need to protect themselves in case you leave and they need you to come back to review and sign patent documentation.

Another example might be to provide testimony in the event that the employer gets sued by a client you worked directly with during your time at the company.

So I can definitely see why a company might do this. I don't know if the life-long obligation is common. I could see certain companies (in certain fields, job positions) putting this into contracts to protect themselves. Enforceability is another issue as mentioned by Masked Man.

This is definitely something you can try to negotiate, however. Ask for some sort of limiting period (12 or 18 months). Also tell them that a compensation strategy should be clearly defined in the agreement so as to protect you and them. Vagueness in something like this is not a good thing for either party.

4

The important part is the "required to carry out the terms of this Agreement".

What does this mean?

Example:

You create a product. The company files a patent for your work. Your contract then terminates. The company can't get the patent without your support, if you don't provide further patent details. But getting the patent was point of the employment agreement. So you are required to review the patent documentation and to make the oath required, as the product was created during your employment and the patenting process was part of your job, the task just got delayed.

Is such a clause common practice? No, most people will likely not have this in their contract. The clause is only required if there is a fair chance you create something during your employment, but the company can't reap the benefits immediately due to external constraints, f.e. the time it takes for a patent to become a patent. You should check if this is the case for your kind of employment.

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It is not common, but if an employee can sign an employment agreement with life long benefits, reciprocity would seem to suggest an employee could sign an employment agreement with life long obligations.

Welch's contracts with GE were subsequently investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The retention package, worth $2.5 million, agreed upon by Welch and GE in 1996 promised him continued access after his retirement to benefits he received as CEO including an apartment in New York, baseball tickets, and use of a private jet and chauffeured car.

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