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Want to break your contract with an employer? Read this first

A lot of people like the security of having a contract with their employer -- but contracts always cut both ways. Your employer may be relying on that contract just as much as you are. Your signature commits you to work for that employer until the contract ends.

So, what happens when you want out?

Maybe you have a great offer somewhere else. Maybe you hate your current boss. Maybe you simply want to take a year and trek the mountains. Whatever the reason, you need to handle this process carefully to avoid legal problems. Here are some tips:

  1. Look at your original contract. You may have a ready-made "out" clause that gives you the right to end your contract after providing your employer with a written notice. That gives your employer time to replace you.
  2. Check for penalties. Leaving your contract early could subject you to some stiff penalties. That might be something like forfeiting an expected bonus. It can also mean something like repaying a starting or "hiring" bonus that you've already spent.
  3. Look for signs that your employer already breached the contract. For example, if they've failed to pay that hiring bonus you were promised before you started, that may be considered a breach and allow you to terminate your end of the deal.
  4. Determine if the contract was made due to misrepresentation. Maybe your employer promised that you'd be managing their facility -- and you find yourself doing a different job you never intended to take on. That could give you the right to leave.

Finally, talk to an attorney who understands the complex issues that are involved in business disputes and breach of contract claims. You want to do everything you can to protect your financial future and your reputation.

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