Does your job offer require that you sign a non-compete agreement?

Only certain employees in Massachusetts can be subject to a non-compete agreement. Employers may not enforce a non-compete agreement against an employee who is classified as nonexempt; an undergraduate or graduate student participating in an internship or short-term employment; employees that have been terminated without cause or laid off; or employees age 18 or younger. Employers may subject employees outside of these classifications to a non-compete so long as the restrictions are reasonable in geographic scope, and the scope of prohibited activities is properly limited to the employees duties and responsibilities.  The agreement cannot last longer than 12 months after the end of employment.  It must also be supported by a clause providing for payment of at least 50 percent of the employee’s salary during the restricted period or other mutually-agreed upon consideration.  Employers cannot avoid the non-compete law’s limitations by including a clause providing that another state’s law governs the agreement.

Does your salary match the salary of your co-workers?

Massachusetts employers are not required to provide you with the pay scale for the position offered to you.  However, you can still ask for this information.  You can also share your compensation details with co-workers and ask them if they are willing to share such details with you.  Under federal law, most employers are prohibited from instituting policies that restrict employees from discussing pay with one another. Remember to consider not just salary, but also other compensation elements like equity, bonuses, moving expenses or vacation time when evaluating whether your compensation package is fair.  Massachusetts employers are prohibited from asking perspective hires about their salary history until after an offer of employment with compensation has been made.

Assuming your employment is “at will,” can you negotiate for contractual protections?

Most employment in the private sector is “at-will.”  This means your employer can terminate your employment or change the terms of your employment whenever they want, for whatever reason they want, other than a few reasons that are illegal (i.e. unlawful discrimination and retaliation).  Employees can try to negotiate for additional protection in their employment contract.  For example, you can seek a provision requiring notice pay or severance pay if terminated or a provision barring termination absent “just cause.”