A contract is a signed agreement between two parties, and both parties must agree with the terms within. If you don’t agree, don’t sign. Simple right?
Most people don’t know that you, as a countersignator, are perfectly within your legal right to create this agreement in collaboration with the issuing party to reach an agreement that suits you both.
And so, you are perfectly within your right to cross out sections in which you do not agree to that section of the contract. Don’t want to waive your rights to pitifully low amounts of PTO and substitute a new number of PTO that suits you fairly? Cross that section out (NOT whiteout) and amend the document with your initials next to the amendment. Don’t want to agree to terms dictating the length of your notice period? Cross that out and initial that too. Want to add mandatory breaks outside of those initially stipulated?
This is where I must point out IANALly that you mustn’t try to pull a fast one when creating a contract or amending one, so trying to sneakily make changes that blend in with the original contract (and therefore not give the employer reasonable notice to agree with, or alert them to the changed terms) can land you in hot water, but if the amendments are not destructive to the original formatting, can be proven to be reasonably obvious and are either missed by the issuing signer or are straight up agreed to, more power to you. You now have a contractual agreement with terms dictated by both you and your employer.
Most of the time the employer might tell you to fuck off, but at that point they’ve probably put you through multiple rounds of interviews, like you and want to bring you on. You might get lucky and negotiate better terms if you like the placement. Worst case scenario, you’re wasting the time of an employer with shitty terms who thought that finally they had an employee bagged and now need to go back to square one because a savvy interviewee knew their shit. You dodged a bullet.
Just another tool in the arsenal that many may never use, but probably find it empowering to know.