In the U.S., most employment is “at will”. This means that either the employer or the employee can terminate the employment at any time, for any legitimate, non-discriminatory reason, with or without cause. The typical senior executive, in contrast, has an employment agreement that runs for a number of years and allows termination only for cause. The reason: Attracting and retaining key executives is critical for any company’s success.
By the time I am called in, the parties usually are at or near agreement on salary and the amount of equity compensation (stock options or grants). In addition, the employer’s benefits program usually is well-defined. I have found that most of the negotiation effort goes into the following provisions: