Question: I am a general solo pediatrician in the process of hiring another full-time associate. I intend to have an attorney write a contract. As I prepare to meet with a lawyer, please advise me on the most important - and frequently omitted - components of such a contract.
Answer: Make sure to cover:
- Detail about compensation. Is it a set salary? When could raises happen and based on what? If salary is production-based, outline every possible nuance of how that gets measured. Stipulate that the new associate will have full access to productivity details (versus you just saying he worked this hard). If required hours change, does compensation change? Look at it from the point of view of someone who wants to be sure they are fairly compensated and try to eliminate any possible debate down the road.
- Full explanation of the expected work hours. If you are going to reduce your call or expect the new person to cover all Saturdays, you better say it now.
- What will happens if either of you decides to leave or if you decide to fire the new person. Who keeps the records? (You should. But can the associate request copies of “his” patients’ records?) What happens to money owed based on lingering A/R? What about patients the associate brings with him? If you fire the new person, what will you communicate to the patients? A forwarding address? Will you pay severance? How much? If he wants to leave, how much notice is required? Again, imagine all the possible areas of disagreement.
- Is partnership a possibility? If no, be clear. If eventual partnership is in your mind, spell out the terms. You can state clearly that partnership is not a given and still spell out the expected terms. What you want to avoid is someone spending three years with you, assuming a partnership deal is coming down the pike, only for it not to happen.