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Understanding Physician Employment Agreements: Top Considerations for Massachusetts Physicians

Physician Employment Attorney in Massachusetts

Physician Employment Attorney


For Massachusetts doctors who require a physician employment attorney to review a physician employment contract on their behalf, Bennett & Belfort, P.C. can provide those legal services.


Legal Services Offered

For Massachusetts physicians requiring the assistance of an attorney, Bennett & Belfort, P.C. has a team of lawyers that can assist doctors with their legal needs, including the review of physician employment contracts


Contract Review and Negotiation

In order to review a contract, whether it is a physician contract, medical agreement, employment contract, physician employment contract, or any other legal document presented to a physician, an attorney at Bennett & Belfort, P.C. can perform services on behalf of physicians.  Our attorneys are trained to assess the nuances of physician employment contracts, including compensation, benefits, malpractice insurance, license requirements, business planning, and restrictive covenants.  We can explain the law to physicians entering a practice, so they understand the potential legal risks embedded in many physician agreements.    


Core Legal Practices

The review and negotiation of a physician employment contracts is one of the core legal practices of our firm.  Physicians located in major hospital across Massachusetts, including Boston, routinely retain Bennett & Belfort, P.C. to review their employment agreements, at which point the physician can make an educated decision whether the contract is suitable. 

If Bennett & Belfort, P.C. is retained to negotiate a physician employment contract, we will seek favorable terms regarding pay and health care benefits.         


Terms Found in Employment Contracts

If you are a Massachusetts physician that has been presented with an employment contract, here are some points that may be included in the offer of employment

If you are a physician located in Massachusetts (Middlesex County, Suffolk County, Hampshire County, Bristol County, Franklin County, Norfolk County, Hampden County, Plymouth County, Dukes County, Worcester County, Nantucket County, Barnstable County, Berkshire County, or Essex County) you may receive an employment offer from a private practice or one of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ hospitals.  If so, here is a non-exhaustive list of terms a physician may see in a proposed employment agreement:


1) Physician Start Date

Physician start date; Physician job title, description of duties, and the medical division in which physician will be employed (physician’s offer of employment may state the physician’s job title and whether it is subject to change in time; the Physician-in-Chief to whom you may be reporting; performance evaluations and dates by which they will be performed; number of clinical hours);


2) Location of Work

Location of work (physician’s offer of employment may state the physician’s address(es) of medical practice or group of hospitals; requirement to be in hospital versus on-call for certain days; patient schedule);


3) Credentialing

Credentialling (physician’s offer of employment may state that as a condition of employment, physician is subject to satisfactory completion of certain credentialing and various pre-employment requirements);


4) Compensation

Compensation (salary amount or hourly rate of pay; recruitment bonus; signing bonus; yearly performance bonus and/or eligibility for a bonus program; tax withholdings; timing of payments; payroll practices);


5) Faculty Appointment

  • Faculty appointment (physician’s offer of employment may state that as a condition of employment, a physician may have the opportunity to be appointed to the faculty of a local medical school to instruct, typically part-time, in the field of medicine in which the physician specializes; if appointed by the medical school, the physician is typically required to satisfy a certain number of teaching hours each year);
  • Physician benefits (physician’s offer of employment may include a breakdown of available benefits such as paid time off (PTO) and/or vacation; sick time; eligibility for Massachusetts Sick Leave law; health insurance; dental insurance; life insurance; vision; 401k eligibility and contribution limits – if 401k is offered, a link to all information that is part of the company plan);
  • Physician eligibility for hire (physician’s employment offer of employment may be contingent upon physician providing medical practice with documentation showing proof that physician is authorized to work in the United States as required by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986; physician work visa and supporting paperwork if applicable; all documents necessary thereto);
  • Physician’s insurance (physician’s offer of employment should include reference to a comprehensive professional liability insurance policy/manual – this will outline coverage, tail coverage, limits of liability, reporting and notice requirements, coverage territory, license requirements, categories of eligibility, physician procedures, moonlighting coverage, association liability, renewals, indemnification, etc.);   
  • Outside Activities (physician employment agreements, in Boston and elsewhere, typically include language requiring the physician to devote professional efforts to performing services for the hospital, and prohibiting the physician from engaging in medical services elsewhere without the express, written, consent of the Physician-in-Chief or their supervisor);


6) At-will employment or term of employment

At-will employment or term of employment (if the physician employment contract states the physician position is at-will, physician and employer are free to terminate the employment relationship with or without cause, so long as the employer’s reason is not unlawful; resignation notice requirement if applicable; termination notice requirement if applicable; if not at-will, requirements associated with termination, including definition of “for cause” termination of offer of employment; many physician employment contracts require 30-day, 60-day, or 90-day notice of ending the contract);


7) Provisional period

  • Provisional period (physician’s offer of employment may include a provisional period which states that physician’s employment status is “provisional” for the first one year or two years, and a decision will be made as to renewal near the end of the provisional period);
  • Assignment of fees (physician’s offer of employment may state that as a condition of employment, physician must assign to medical practice all fees that are generated from physician’s services);
  • Contracts with payers (physician’s offer of employment may state that as a condition of employment, physician authorizes medical practice to negotiate contracts with third-party payers on behalf of the physician);


8) Physician billing

  • Physician billing (physician’s offer of employment may state that all billing services for medical activities will be performed by the medical practice, and physician is prohibited from billing on their own);
  • Medical records (physician’s offer of employment may state that physician is responsible for maintaining appropriate medical records for patients, in compliance with applicable laws and standards pertaining to the maintenance and confidentiality of medical records);
  • Medical practice property (issuance of computer hardware and software such as laptop or iPad, access card, keys, cell phone, pager and related equipment, and all company materials that will be provided to physician upon execution of physician employment contract);


9) Physician code of conduct

  • Physician code of conduct (physician’s offer of employment may state that physician must comply with the medical practice’s code of conduct, which may include compliance with laws and regulations, policies and programs, requirements on gifts / gratuities / remuneration, conflicts of interest, confidentiality, public commentary, political activities / contributions);
  • Intellectual property (physician’s offer of employment may state that physician must follow the medical practice’s requirements as to inventions/patents, copyrightable works, tangible research property, and income from intellectual property);
  • Return of medical practice property (at the conclusion of physician’s employment with the medical practice, physician will be required to promptly return all the medical practice’s property);
  • Prior physician contracts (physician’s offer of employment may state that as a condition of employment, physician expressly confirms they are not bound by a prior physician employment contract with a previous medical practice that would prohibit employment);


10) Medical practice policies

Medical practice policies (physician’s offer of employment may include the issuance to physician of an employee handbook may be provided by the medical practice to the physician as part of physician employment contract; violation of medical practice policies may lead to reprimand, up to and including termination).

Criminal background check (physician’s offer of employment may be contingent on completion of a criminal background investigation; medical practice reserves right to rescind offer of physician employment offer pending the results of the criminal background check). Entire physician agreement (physician’s offer of employment supersedes all prior contracts, oral agreements, and/or discussions);


11) Dispute resolution

Dispute resolution (physician’s offer of employment may state that as a condition of employment, physician agrees to various dispute resolution attempts, including negotiation, mediation, and/or arbitration; venue for mediation and/or arbitration along with costs associated with mediation and/or arbitration); Legal review of physician’s offer of employment (physician’s offer of employment may state that physician has right to hire a Massachusetts employment law attorney to review the physician employment contract prior to execution of the offer);

Deadline (physician’s offer of employment may include a date certain by which the physician must provide notice to the medical practice of their intention to execute the employment agreement); Boilerplate provisions (physician’s offer of employment may state that any modifications to the physician contract must be in writing and approved by the Physician-in-Chief or supervisor; Massachusetts governing law or elsewhere).


Bennett & Belfort is a reputable law firm based in Massachusetts that has a breadth of experience reviewing physician employment agreements

At Bennett & Belfort, our attorneys have been reviewing and negotiating physician employment contracts on behalf of physicians located in Massachusetts for years.  Our attorneys are skilled in many legal areas and, therefore, medical practitioners can feel comfortable asking our attorneys questions on these contracts, including the aforementioned terms that may be included in the physician offer of employment.  Bennett & Belfort attorneys can assist the physician to understand the language of the proposed offer of employment, discuss the legal ramifications, and, if necessary, assist to negotiate more advantageous terms for the physician.


Contact Information

Contact a Bennett & Belfort to discuss any employment law issues related to doctors, employment contracts, and/or contract review.

If you are a physician located in Massachusetts that has been presented with an employment agreement, or if you are a physician that has legal questions regarding employment law, feel free to reach out to Bennett & Belfort, P.C. online or by telephone at (617) 577-8800.  To speak with an experienced Massachusetts physician employment attorney, you can contact Bennett & Belfort, P.C.


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