Tue | Sep 21, 2021

Yaneek Page | Validity of online contracts for Jamaica

Published:Sunday | November 24, 2019 | 12:00 AM

QUESTION: I really admire the great work you have been doing to support entrepreneurs like me, I have never had a mentor or adviser, and your advice has really helped me in my business, so please keep up everything. My question for you is that I am getting ready to hire someone in my business for the first time, but I don’t have a business contract to give her. My friend suggested I pull one from the Internet. When I searched online, I found many of them. However, what I found is from other countries such as United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and a few other places to include even Australia, however, none from Jamaica.

As of this minute, I do not have the funds and the time to go to find a lawyer who could give me one. I heard that the cost is about $60,000 for this these days.

So, Yaneek, would it be alright for me to just use one on the internet? Would any of these be relevant for employment of people in Jamaica or does it even matter really? If so, which country should I use the contract from that would be closest to employment for our country. One more thing: do you know the cost of an employment contract done here by a lawyer?

I am looking forward to your reply as soon as possible because I am getting ready for job interviews.

– Marcia

 

BUSINESSWISE: I understand how challenging it is to find the right business mentor, so I am happy this column has been able to address some of the issues you are facing. When it comes to contracts of service, employment, partnership, and so on, I do not recommend that you use random templates from the Internet. In fact, it may be far more detrimental to you personally, and your business, to use a contract from the Internet, than to have no contract at all.

Let me say that again: it may be better to have no written contract at all than a bad one.

Another major point I want you to consider is that it is just as important to understand the relevant laws and your obligations under these laws than to have a contract in place. Therefore, you don’t just engage a legal professional to draft a contract, you first get proper advice.

Cost factor

The costs for these services will vary widely based on specific needs, the experience and competence of the lawyer, the target market of the firm, and several other competitive factors, so, unfortunately, I could not give you a range or average cost.

Employment laws and practices in the USA are very different to those in Jamaica.

For example, there is no federal law mandating paid vacation or sick leave in the United States, however we do have such statutes in Jamaica.

Interestingly, the most problematic of issues for employers in Jamaica is lawful termination even with a proper contract in place as adhering to the proper legal process can be very complex, costly, and time-consuming. In other countries like the US, the process of terminating an employee is far simpler as the protections for workers are fewer, and the employment contracts you find online from that country are reflective of that reality, which is in stark contrast to ours. These are critical issues that can affect the very viability of your business, if ignored.

I know of several small business operators who have been forced to close their doors because of an inability to compensate employees for unlawful termination.

Canada, Australia, and the UK are the territories whose laws would bear closest resemblance to Jamaica’s , yet our laws are not the same. I cannot stress enough how risky it is for you to engage anyone in business without having a proper contract in place that is relevant to the specific purpose and applicable laws.

In fact, it is also crucial that you have your own lawyer review contracts that you may receive from suppliers, clients, service providers, etc, before you sign on the dotted line.

Finally, as a reminder, once you decide to start a business, there are at least four highly competent professionals you will need to engage from time to time, irrespective of the type of enterprise you operate. These are an accountant, a commercial lawyer, a human resource specialist, and a business adviser or coach.

Good luck!

Yaneek Page is the programme lead for Market Entry USA, a certified trainer in entrepreneurship, and creator and executive producer of The Innovators and Let’s Make Peace TV series. yaneek.page@gmail.com