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THE QUESTION

Do I have to inform my employer and union that I have been charged with domestic violence? What about if I am convicted? I am worried sick that I may lose my job.

THE ANSWER

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You are innocent until proven guilty so there is no obligation to advise your employer that you have been charged.

Similarly, if you are convicted of an offence that would not have an impact on your ability to perform your job, then you do not need to volunteer that information to your employer. Convictions that would affect your ability to perform your job include losing your driver's licence when you are required to drive for work, being convicted of child pornography offences when you work with students or children, or being convicted of fraud and embezzlement when you work as a financial adviser or for a bank.

Further, where travel to the United States is a core component of your job, being convicted of many offences, including domestic violence, can make it difficult to travel across the border. In some of these scenarios, criminal charges, even without a conviction, may be harmful enough for your employer to dismiss you if and when they find out.

THE QUESTION

I have been working for my employer for 10 months, and she just developed an employment contract, titled "Job Duties and Responsibilities," which also dictates how many kilometres away we can start a practice after we leave. Is it legal to have us sign this contract, since we did not have the opportunity to make a decision about accepting these terms prior to accepting employment?

THE ANSWER

Once you start work, even on the first day, you must be provided with something that has some additional value to you in exchange for signing that contract. Otherwise, it is not a legally enforceable agreement.

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The added value needed for an enforceable contract can be anything that you did not already have. Keeping your job does not qualify, since you were already employed. Usually, companies offer current employees signing bonuses, promotions, or an extra day off in exchange for signing a contract.

If the new contract is not being offered along with any incentive for you, then even if you sign it, your employer cannot rely on any part of it in court. So consider either negotiating with your employer to get something valuable in exchange for your agreement to the contract, or sign it and trust that it cannot later be upheld.

Daniel A. Lublin is a partner at Whitten & Lublin, representing both employers and employees in workplace legal disputes.

E-mail: Dan@canadaemploymentlawyer.com

Have a question about careers, labour law or management? Send it to our panel of experts: careerquestion@globeandmail.com Your name and address will be kept confidential.

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