Not Signing a Contract of Employment

Not Signing a Contract of Employment: What You Need to Know

As a job seeker or newly hired employee, you may encounter situations where you are asked to start working without signing a contract of employment. This can be a cause for concern and confusion, as employment contracts are typically used to set out the terms and conditions of your employment. However, it`s important to understand your rights and obligations in these situations.

Why Companies May Delay Contracts

There are different reasons why a company may delay providing you with an employment contract. Some may be due to administrative or logistical reasons, such as the HR department being swamped with tasks or the contract needing final review by senior management. Others may be more concerning, such as the company not following proper HR practices and hoping to take advantage of you by not providing a contract.

Employment Contracts: What Are They?

Employment contracts are legally binding agreements between an employer and an employee. They typically outline the terms and conditions of your employment, including your job title, duties, compensation, benefits, hours of work, leave entitlement, termination clauses, and more. Contracts can be written or verbal, but it`s always recommended to have written contracts to avoid misunderstandings and disputes.

What Are Your Rights Without a Contract?

Even if you have not signed an employment contract, you still have legal rights and protections as an employee. In most jurisdictions, there are minimum standards for employment, such as minimum wage, overtime pay, vacation pay, and other entitlements. These standards are set out in employment legislation and cannot be waived by an employment contract.

As an employee, you also have the right to a safe and healthy work environment, protection from discrimination and harassment, and the right to join a union if you choose to. These rights are not dependent on having an employment contract.

What Are the Risks of Not Having a Contract?

While you may have legal protections as an employee, not having a contract can create risks and uncertainty for both you and the employer. Without a clear agreement in writing, you may not know what your job duties are, how much you will be paid, when your performance will be reviewed, or what benefits you are entitled to. This can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts, and make it difficult for you to plan your career and personal life.

For employers, not having a contract can expose them to legal risks and damages if they violate employment standards or terminate your employment without just cause. Employers may also lose out on valuable protections and clauses that can mitigate risks and manage expectations, such as non-compete and confidentiality agreements.

What Should You Do If You Haven`t Received a Contract?

If you haven`t received an employment contract, it`s important to ask your employer about it. Be polite and professional, and explain that you would like to have a clear understanding of your employment terms and conditions. If the employer is unable or unwilling to provide a contract, you may want to seek legal advice or discuss your options with a professional association or union, if applicable.

In some cases, it may be possible to negotiate better terms and conditions if you are willing to wait for a contract or sign a temporary agreement. However, be cautious about accepting verbal promises or informal arrangements, as they may not be legally enforceable.


Not signing a contract of employment can be a cause for concern, but it`s important to understand your rights and protections as an employee. While contracts can provide clarity and protections for both parties, they are not the only way to ensure fairness and compliance. As a job seeker or employee, be proactive in asking for a contract or seeking legal advice if necessary, and be mindful of your legal rights and obligations in any employment relationship.