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Employment Contract

Have you signed your employment contract? ⚡️

I have secured a new role for three candidates in a row that had not signed their current employment contract; their exits have been complex.

I contacted Marie Walsh at Consilia for some employment legal advice about this as it appears to be a recurring theme.  It could be related to the pandemic or not but here is what she had to say:

“There is no requirement that an employment contract is signed; there is no statutory obligation to this effect; contractually (under the law of England and Wales), an employment contract can be binding whether or not it is signed.

There is a statutory obligation on the employer to provide a written statement of certain particulars of employment on day one of employment.

 Express terms of an employment may be oral and/or in writing.   There are also a number of implied terms.

It is, however, important to avoid disagreement about precisely what the terms of an employment contract are for the reasons you mention and mostly disputes arise in relation to notice periods or restraints of trade and confidentiality.

Such disagreements are more likely if the contract is agreed orally (in whole or part). It is partly, for this reason, that employers will usually ask the employee to sign the agreed contract of employment to avoid any such disagreement.  With the pandemic in mind since there is no need under the law of England and Wales for employment contracts to be in any particular form, there is nothing to prevent the use of electronic signatures in them. 

In terms of leaving a job, it would be my view that a notice period needs to be served whether or not the contract is signed providing that the employee had not objected to the terms when presented and had worked under the terms happily until the new role came along.

It would always be possible to negotiate with the employer for an early release of course, or the new employer may wish to make a payment to the old employer to facilitate an early exit.

Either way, to leave without an agreement would place the employee in breach of contract; they may be pursued for any associated losses if the employer could not mitigate them (though this is very rare).

So, the solution to avoid the dispute is to make sure any contractual terms provided are signed and retained.

Why not carry out a quick check now and chase up any outstanding contracts whilst you are thinking about this?”

Please contact Marie Walsh directly for employment advice on 0113 3229222 or