Training Agreement for Contract Pilot

VA AV8R

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Greetings. Hoping some really seasoned folks can assist with my current dilemma.

I went self-employed after my last job slid downhill. A former colleague approached me the past summer about coming on board. The deal was that, for at least the first year, I would have to go the contract route. I would be sent to school, obtain the required type rating, and be able to act as PIC. We shook hands with the understanding that it would be best, given the costs involved, if I stayed 12 months (pretty typical, no)? The other downside was that the aircraft doesn't fly much, meaning my net income from the position was going to be much much lower than any salary survey stipulated. With this in mind, I made it clear that I would have to continue working with other operators to make ends meet, and that my long term preference was a full time salaried position with this company (mid size jet, duty days easier, get alone well with everyone, etc.). There was never a requirement to sign an agreement at the end of our meeting, and, I went to school about two weeks later.

Fast forward a couple of months. Things are going ok. I'm making myself available to this outfit probably 7 days per month, and on other days I try and fly a King Air if I can. Because of my long standing relationship with a training center, as well as some mechanical reliability issues during my last training class, I am afforded the opportunity to obtain an additional type rating at a considerable discount.

I request the time off from the company I am primarily contracting with, and, am granted it. Two days later, via email –*****I get a contract which is to be signed and returned. The contract stipulates that, I will give them a year from the date of my type check ride. No problems there. It also contains language about their right to terminate the agreement "with or without cause" at any time.

I'm upset for several reasons. I've signed these before, and was always made aware of that fact before I agreed to a new job or a new airplane. This is coming after the fact, when there was no prior mention of it before. I was told that, my additionally scheduled training makes it look like I am poised to leave. My answer to that is that we agreed I would fly for one year, and there were no other strings attached when I stated I had to do other things to pay the bills. I am most uncomfortable with the "with or without cause" termination clause. To me, that means if I dress wrong, or land the airplane hard – or whatever – they can terminated the agreement and I owe them $$$. There are many other issues – even down to signing as myself or signing it as the owner of my S Corporation.

Looking for insight but frankly I am sending this to my attorney. It's unfortunate – I've known the guy a long time and we've always seen eye to eye but he's spooked by my pursuit of another type and wants to cover his position. But I am not his employee, they have made no guarantee of income, and, like everyone else I have a lot of financial commitments. It would be great if this evolved into a full time gig, but, if at the end of the year they don't want the burden of another salary I would like to be in the best position possible to pursue such a position.
 

Chairman

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In contracts like that I have dealt with if they wanted to let you go without cause you were released from there training agreements. Seems like you need to change some wording. I also agree after the fact is not really cool either. I think agreements are BS but don't listen to people saying they are not legal. I have sent that agreement I had at one point in my career to a few attorneys and they felt it was worded such I would have a hard time fighting it. I always fulfilled the terms I agreed to and left on good terms but I would avoid training contracts because some employers will cut pay and benefits knowing you can not leave.
 

landlover

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this comes down to leverage, and you have it for the rest of the time the training they paid for lasts. i wouldn't sign.
 

BoilerUP

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this comes down to leverage, and you have it for the rest of the time the training they paid for lasts. i wouldn't sign.

x2

You made a good faith, "handshake" agreement. You honor it and you've got nothing to tarnish your word.

What do you have to lose? If you refuse to sign their after-the-fact contract and they stop using you, you lose that potential income and possible future employment but you've still got the training they provided with no provision to pay them back for it; they'd also have zero legal standing to recoup such funds.

That said, why not just talk to them about the situation you find yourself in? That might allay their fears without the need for a signed agreement.
 

Gulfstream 200

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Red flags exist for a reason. If I had to pay a lawyer to make sense of an employment contract, that would tell me all I need to know about the outift. Good jobs dont require you to sign contracts.

I have never been asked to sign one, nor would I ever sign one.

Are they doing you some great service by providing you an airplane to fly part-time? I think not. In addition, they have now shown how they operate, and I wouldn't take a full-time position with them either...I'd iron out any issues with your friend and move on.

Good Luck!
 

dhc8fo

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Since you have already received the training, why don't you send THEM a contract? Write it up to your liking touching on all the things you did the handshake on. I think you are in a GREAT position.
 

jet2work

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I had a similar experience with an employer. I was a full time employee, that came to them typed and current a year later they got a new aircraft type. They sent me to school, and about 6 months after I returned, they sent all of us a contract with the usual "with or without cause" statement (you gotta love lawyers). I refused to sign the paperwork primarily because I was looking to buy a new house, and the contract was worded that the training cost was a loan advance that would be forgiven if I completed one year of servitude (I don't think it was even pro-rated). I explained to my boss that I would legally be required to report this on my loan application, and it would negatively impact my ability to buy the new house. Then everyone else in the department refused to sign the form.

Look at it logically. If you refuse to sign the form, then they are making their worst fear come true (that you will leave in less than 12 mos. and they eat the training cost). Your friend that brought you on board and got you typed did you a big favor (in my opinion), and must have been seriously looking at you as a full time candidate to spend that kind of money training you for a year's worth of contract work (divide the cost of the type by the daily contract rate and add that to the rate they are paying you for each day you fly - they could have easily found a typed contract and paid him an extra $175 a day).

Talk with your friend, and let him know that you are in need of extra income, and that's why you were pursuing the additional type rating. Ask him what the likelihood of you becoming a full time employee is and what kind of timeframe to expect. He is probably concerned about how it would reflect on him to his employer if you left after a few months, given the investment they have made in you. The contract just puts his mind at ease regarding your intentions.

Getting adversarial with him about the contract is probably a mistake. By your admission, you have already committed to a verbal contract (the enforceability of which varies from state to state). So signing the paperwork really only makes it easier for him to enforce if you leave earlier (which you are not planning to do, right?). I know that you are particularly concerned about the "without cause" aspect of the contract. This is boilerplate, but if it bothers you too much, ask them to strike through that line. That is just BS lawyer stuff that lets the employer hold all the cards (which is who the lawyer works for).

All that being said, I have bailed on a contract with an employer after 6 months (it was not my intention originally). They made some verbal promises during the interview, which turned out to be unrealistically optimistic (ok, they lied:angryfire). A much better opportunity came along, and I had to take it. They kept my last paycheck, but never came after me for the money. Like G200 said (paraphrase) "If they make you sign a contract, it might not be the kind of place you want to work for to begin with." I had to learn this the hard way (so that you don't have too). In this instance though, I think you might have just made your friend nervous that you were going to leave without fulfilling your verbal agreement.

I have done two corporate Relo's, and it is standard (even outside of aviation) to have to sign a contract to pay back pro-rated moving expenses etc. I have never had a problem signing those.

If you do not sign the contract, I think it is safe to assume that you have given up any chance of being brought on full time.

A new type rating is not money in the bank, but it's the next best thing. :)
 
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SansPlane

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Send them a letter/email stating what you told us. Obviously they are concerned and it falls on you to alleviate their concern. If you intend to honor your agreement, include your understanding of that agreement in your writing. This outfit sent you to training on a handshake. Either someone made a mistake outright or they are still a good outfit that does not want to be burned. But don't sign their contract as stated above. You sound like a good guy and they are probably fine for what you agreed to.
 

VA AV8R

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Well, I spent the day composing a response and an alternative agreement based on my lawyer's input.

At no point did I refuse to sign anything whatsoever, but rather, said I could not sign this particular document because of certain issues that I then pointed out. I also asked for clarification as to why our hand-shake was no longer valid two and half months later. I was told that, "we must agree to disagree (on the contract)", and that, "the matter is considered closed". So I don't know even know what that means, and I'm awful upset about this.

I even explained that, amongst other things, I could not sign the original document if, for no other reason whatsoever, it does not mention my S-Corporation. That's who my paychecks are made out to, and who in turn pays me. If I have to pay back $$$ for any reason, I need to run it through that for tax purposes.

Guess I'll find out in a few days on my next scheduled trip.
 

Bleeds On

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You hold all the cards. Seriously, if they dump you now(even though you're not an employee), then they just fulfilled their own prophesy. They're not going to do that so don't sign anything. I'd keep correspondence verbal as well. Written word gets misunderstood far too often, it's permanent record, and is spread instantly with the click of a mouse. Just talk to him, assure him you're not running away and why, and continue on. You can review contracts at recurrent. I personally think it's BS to require a signed contract for any contract pilot. Besides, signing an exclusivity agreement with a company lands them in hot water with the IRS.
 

cynic

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Honor your word, stop sending emails. Explain you enjoy working there and are not planning to bail. Do NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT sign anything. That would be an exceedingly stupid idea.
 

Gulfstream 200

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stop sending emails....

THIS.

Email is not where you want to try and settle things. Its perceived as cowardly and is often misunderstood.
 

VA AV8R

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I agree with the email thing. At my last job, which I had for eight years, the boss would never pick up the phone. Even if you were in trouble - you'd get a text message. Basically dealing with the same thing here - if I want to actually talk outside of a flight I have to call or my phone will never ring.

Now despite this I'll say that he's always been a really good guy and we've always had a great relationship. I think there's a lot of pressure now that he is answering to an owner directly vs. just being a line pilot and, as his mentor at our last company I try to be supportive. I truly hope we get past this, but I'd be $%&! to turn down the chance to get another type rating.
 

landlover

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One positive note about emails is that you will not have to play a game of "he said she said". In a situation where a verbal agreement is trying to be thrown out, i'd want a record of the dialog.
 

Gulfstream 200

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One positive note about emails is that you will not have to play a game of "he said she said". In a situation where a verbal agreement is trying to be thrown out, i'd want a record of the dialog.


But then you're acting like a lawyer, not a human being....and the chances of coming to an amicable agreement are slim to none.

This type of thing will have a much better chance of working out for all involved over friends having dinner and a few beers....(says me)

If one is to at the point of relaying speak from their lawyer in tit for tat emails....its going/gone downhill fast.

BTW - I dont understand the entire situation, of course, but just adding a type rating really does not do as much for a pilot as some people think. The picture is much bigger. Good jobs dont hire based on a rating, and if you dont have decent time in type as a PIC nobody cares anyhow. Dont chase ratings, this does not lead to good jobs (from what I have seen)

Good Luck!
 
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VA AV8R

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BTW - I dont understand the entire situation, of course, but just adding a type rating really does not do as much for a pilot as some people think. The picture is much bigger. Good jobs dont hire based on a rating, and if you dont have decent time in type as a PIC nobody cares anyhow. Dont chase ratings, this does not lead to good jobs (from what I have seen)

This, I do not agree with based on my experiences. Chasing type ratings alone, yes – I concede that a type in and of itself isn't all that useful. I picked up a handful of them early on, then worked at a company with all turboprops for years. When it came time to move on, the lack of a recent type rating was detrimental. All I heard was, "are you current and typed" to the point where I wanted to have a T-Shirt made up. Granted, they were all 135 operators and I've learned the hard way to try and avoid them (as you said: "Good jobs"). The type I am about the get is for an aircraft that I have been flying part-time as SIC for over a year now. I hope to expand the amount of work I can do with the type under my belt, so that, if in another ten months the current situation doesn't go full time I've got another credential with some experience to fall back on. Having the type makes it easier to get the contract work to being with.

I've made it clear that I don't want anything more at this point than a face to face dinner or meeting to talk everything out, and I just have to see how it plays out.
 

Nolife

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Do not sign a retro-active contract. If they made a good faith gesture to you and you to them that should suffice. If they decide to change the terms that's their problem. Signing the contract sets you up for grief down the road should things sour.

They have already lost their trust in you, perhaps not your friend but the owner/principals have and that's why they demand this retro-active contract. At this point your relationship has changed and I'd bet it's unlikely you'll be considered for long term employment. Be nice and reassuring however I'd start looking in another direction.

BTW... most people lose contract disputes due to lack of funds. Companies have money, individual pilots do not. Can you afford a three year drawn out legal nighmare to get out of a contract?
 

gern_blanston

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Do not sign a retro-active contract...

...They have already lost their trust in you... Be nice and reassuring however I'd start looking in another direction.
What he said.^^^
 

VA AV8R

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Do not sign a retro-active contract. If they made a good faith gesture to you and you to them that should suffice. If they decide to change the terms that's their problem. Signing the contract sets you up for grief down the road should things sour.

They have already lost their trust in you, perhaps not your friend but the owner/principals have and that's why they demand this retro-active contract. At this point your relationship has changed and I'd bet it's unlikely you'll be considered for long term employment. Be nice and reassuring however I'd start looking in another direction.

Well... Call me naive but I believe that it is possible to have a disagreement in principle without long term negative consequences so long as everyone acts like a grownup, which, I think will be the case here. Besides, I'm not backing out of my end of the bargain; my word is my bond as they say.
 
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