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  • negotiating contract

    Anyone else negotiating a contract recently and feel that the other end uses endless jargon and "corporate limitations" to not change the contract or not give you what you are requesting?  Am getting a little tired of this "assembly belt" treatment, especially when after you are requesting a change in the language and they reply with either no changes due to "corporate limitation" or rephrase something but only make it more restrictive in nature.

    Would like some personal stories or feedback from others on this site.  Aside from obvious clinical/ difficult partners/ burnout related issues, at what juncture in your working relationship did you know its time to call it quits or move on for your own professional growth benefit. I feel like once admin is putting a lid on it, its time to look elsewhere.

    The sad part is, I actually like the people I work with but its the ones doing the paperwork/ contract agreement that is proving difficult.

    Thoughts?

  • #2
    Are you using a lawyer? If not, and this is the treatment you're getting then its time to stop playing nice. What you can really accomplish will vary depending on exact situation/setup.

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    • #3
      Make sure you're negotiating with the right person.  The lawyers aren't going to want to change anything.  But if the head of the department that wants you calls Legal and says "Do what this guy wants", then you've got a fighting chance.

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      • #4
        There is only one rule in contract negotiations: the party with the leverage sets the terms. The most important leverage physicians have in contract negotiations is the ability and willingness to take your services elsewhere. This is why restrictive covenant agreements are probably the single most important part of a contract; if you are functionally unable to leave your position because of the restrictive covenant+other circumstances like a spousal job, then your employer can dictate all the other terms of the agreement in their favor.

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        • #5
          I feel your pain. I was with an organization for 5 years, they called in a national firm and my group imploded. We all resigned. Within a year the national firm left the hospital and they then wanted their "own practice again". The place I went to was an hour away, much bigger organization and they did not negotiate contracts...at all. I then left in a few years and returned to the original job as it was much closer to home and I figured...if it's just a job it's more beneficial to have a short commute. They negotiated and things worked out very well in my favor...they really, really wanted me back. Now however they are redoing everyone's contact and have doubled the mileage on the restrictive covenant, doubled the resignation notice term, and added other "legal" jargon very much in favor of the employer. They were willing to change the wording on a few things but otherwise they are not budging. I feel like this is the way medicine is going unfortunately, unless you are in high demand, then you have the upper hand.

          You know it's time to call it quits when the job effects your well being, your home life and your patient care. No job is worth your health, family or license. Even if you love the people you work with.

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          • #6
            I am not sure the context of this, what terms are being disputed, who is the employer (hospital/health system vs. private group), your length of engagement with employer (first contract vs. third renewal), your experience in these matters, etc., and all of these matter... a lot.

            I have been a practice leader in a private practice group until very recently and have extensive experience in offering contracts to new members of our group. One thing that comes up frequently with our contract discussions, especially with new, inexperienced potential hires, is the request to change language in contracts that everyone in the group has agreed. I am not talking about the negotiable terms like money, vacation, term to partnership, etc., but language relating to retirement plan, noncompete (only on our own turf), tail coverage (don't expect if you leave us to join another group), dismissal for cause (usually requires egregious behavior or nonperformance of duty), etc. is that everyone in the group (associates and partners) has agreed to the same terms.

            So one thing I would consider when confronted when you are struggling with contractual terms is are these terms that everyone else has agreed, and if so, is it a deal breaker or just a matter of not liking the way something is worded?

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            • #7
              You definately make a good point VagabondMD. It is essential for the psychological health of the group that there is boilerplate that everybody is treated equally. Finding out that the new hire got a much better deal than you is a great way to drive away existing docs. At the same time, it's impossible for a new hire to know that they aren't being lied to when they are told "this is how everybody else has it."

              The key thing is that a fair contract protects both parties. A non-compete protects the group from subsidizing a new doc until they open a practice across the street, but doesn't ruin a new doc's ability to make a living. A practice buy-in compensates existing docs for the risk they took in building the practice without being a windfall that the new doctor can never recoup.

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              • #8




                Anyone else negotiating a contract recently and feel that the other end uses endless jargon and “corporate limitations” to not change the contract or not give you what you are requesting?  Am getting a little tired of this “assembly belt” treatment, especially when after you are requesting a change in the language and they reply with either no changes due to “corporate limitation” or rephrase something but only make it more restrictive in nature.

                Would like some personal stories or feedback from others on this site.  Aside from obvious clinical/ difficult partners/ burnout related issues, at what juncture in your working relationship did you know its time to call it quits or move on for your own professional growth benefit. I feel like once admin is putting a lid on it, its time to look elsewhere.

                The sad part is, I actually like the people I work with but its the ones doing the paperwork/ contract agreement that is proving difficult.

                Thoughts?
                Click to expand...


                I did hire a lawyer to negotiate my contract.

                I asked the lawyer to screen for oddball contracts before beginning negotiations. Contracts with ridiculous wording (and I've seen a few) were ones I didn't even bother trying to negotiate over.

                Contracts that were worded fairly were ones I opted to pursue further. The contract can often times tell you a lot about how a certain group is run.

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                • #9
                  I prefer to use an attorney only to help me understand the contract terms and to give me advice.  I don't recommend you have the attorney negotiate for you.  It costs a lot more money that way and sometimes they create ill will when they pound a way at phrases that may not even matter to you.

                  I have negotiated many changes in my employment contracts over the years.  Most everything is negotiable - even if they imply or state that it isn't.  There are very few "standard contracts" out there that never get modified at all.

                  You have to pick the one or two things that are important for you.  You may have to let other minor clauses go.

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                  • #10
                    I agree that asking an attorney to negotiate for you is an excellent form of wealth transfer from yourself to the attorney. Where an attorney CAN be helpful is in being able to spot "red flags", deficiencies in contracts or a contract is demanding something illegal/far outside the norm. Sadly, I have numerous anecdotes between my own job search and friends of horror story contracts like restrictive covenents in states that don't allow them, six figure "buyouts" during the pre-partner phase, etc etc.

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                    • #11




                      I agree that asking an attorney to negotiate for you is an excellent form of wealth transfer from yourself to the attorney. Where an attorney CAN be helpful is in being able to spot “red flags”, deficiencies in contracts or a contract is demanding something illegal/far outside the norm. Sadly, I have numerous anecdotes between my own job search and friends of horror story contracts like restrictive covenents in states that don’t allow them, six figure “buyouts” during the pre-partner phase, etc etc.
                      Click to expand...


                      I not only have a restrictive covenant, there are all kinds of crazy restrictive other things in there as well. Im in Cali where having a restrictive covenant is a priori illegal and puts the writer at liability. You have to know these things and how easy/difficult any of the clauses will be to fight or get some kind of concession for.

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                      • #12
                        Even in states where non-competes are illegal or defeatable, the potential for problems can frequently turn off a potential employer who knows that your current employer can cause them a headache.

                        You should consult with a qualified attorney in your area.

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