If an employee refuses to sign a contract, what can you do?

When an employee is presented with a new or amended employment contract most employees will have it signed and on its way back to you in a flash, however, there can be occasions where this doesn’t happen. If you have been waiting some time for a signed contract to be returned, it may simply be forgetfulness on their part, or an attempt to prevent the terms and conditions of employment from being applies.

Some employees may think that this approach is a clever way to hold off being bound by the terms, but this is necessarily the case. An employee expresslyaccepts the terms of employment when they sign and returning a copy to the employer, but if they have not done so there is a legal principle of impliedacceptance if the employee continues to work and makes no complaint.

If an employee does not specifically object or raise a grievance about the terms of employment and begins or continues to work, they may be deemed to have accepted a new or amended employment contract. The longer they continue to work in accordance with the terms detailed in the contract, the more likely it is that the principle of implied acceptance will apply.

That said, it is not recommended that employers rely upon implied acceptance as an employment tribunal may not draw the same conclusion and may decide for itself which terms are implied and which are not and this certainly does not mean that employers should not provide contracts or written statements of particulars for employees.

Employers can wait up to 2 months before issuing minimum statutory information, but the right to a statement of minimum written particulars accrues after 1 month. This means that even if an employee leaves in their second month of service, they are still entitled to receive a copy of their written particulars. Employers who fail to provide particulars within the specified time limits could face fines of up to £1800 per employee.

It is good practice though to ensure that all new employees receive a full contract of employment before they start work for you. If you are having trouble getting employees to sign their contracts and are unsure how to tackle this contact us today to discuss the situation and we can provide you with a letter template to send to the employee/employees.

For further information on contracts and written statements of particulars, click here.

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