My employee hasn’t signed their updated contract of employment – what now?

When an employee hasn’t signed their updated contract of employment, what on earth can you do?

First things first.

Have you:

  • explained what (if anything) has changed in their contract?
  • given the reasons for the changes?
  • set a deadline for return of the signed contract?
  • given them an opportunity to ask questions?

 If you haven’t done all of these things, not to worry. You can follow these steps first by having a chat with them and then providing a letter to confirm the points you’ve spoken about with them.

In my experience, reassurance is sometimes all that’s needed. You can reassure that nothing’s changing in their terms and conditions and you can explain the reasons for updating their contract. You could decide to provide a copy of their previous contract along with the new one so they have the ability to compare the two.

Then what?

Having explained the changes and the reasons, given a deadline and provided an opportunity to ask questions, what happens then if the employee still doesn’t sign?

The employee may have forgotten, in which case a simple reminder should suffice.

However, they may be just not signing the contract in the belief that not signing means that they cannot be bound by the new contract terms.

Although I always recommend that you get a signed contract returned, the signature is not essential to make the terms binding.

I’ll say that again, you don’t need the employee’s signature to make the contract binding.

What do you need is to demonstrate and prove that:

  • the new terms were issued to them;
  • they had the opportunity to raise queries and/or refuse to sign;
  • if they did refuse to sign, they were invited to a meeting to discuss their objections.

Otherwise, if they don’t sign but don’t object to the changes, after a reasonable amount of time during which they continue to work as normal, they are deemed to have accepted the changes.

It can be a pain if someone refuses to sign updated terms and conditions but it’s certainly not the end of the world.

If you have any questions about employees who don’t sign their terms and conditions, get in touch today. and here is a CIPD factsheet with more information on contracts.