Introduction to this document

Electronic signatures clause

If you put a suitable online platform in place, employees can sign their employment contracts using e-signatures, whether that means typing their name or a unique code into the contract or using a stylus pen. Use our clause in employment contracts to make clear that e-signatures have the same legal effect as ink-based ones.

Legally valid

Under English law, an employment contract (including a deed) that’s entered into electronically with an employee, using an e-signature, is just as legally binding as a handwritten signature. If the employment contract needs to be executed as a deed, the employee must sign it in the physical presence of a witness, but both the employee and their witness can still use an e-signature. However, the vast majority of employment contracts don’t need to be deeds. You’ll only need it to be a deed if it includes a power of attorney giving you the power to sign documents on the employee’s behalf to assign any intellectual property rights to the business. Scotland has different rules on contract execution so it’s best to avoid e-signatures if you’re north of the border.

What’s an e-signature?

An e-signature can take various forms and includes someone signing by:

  • using a stylus pen on a touch screen device
  • typing their full name into the employment contract
  • applying a unique digital code to the employment contract as personal identification.

There are a number of commercial providers out there that offer e-signing platforms, and some also have their own mobile apps, or you can see if you can create your own platform in-house. They can include features such as providing an online server to which the encrypted employment contract can be uploaded, restricting access through password protection, automatically informing the employee by e-mail when a contract or other document has been uploaded for their signature and informing you once it’s been signed, and offering certification to confirm it’s not been tampered with during the process.

Benefits of e-signatures

One of the key benefits of an e-signature is that the whole signing process can be done remotely online, without the need to print off or scan any of the pages. It gives employees the option to sign their employment contracts on their smartphones or tablets, even when they’re out and about, which means you’re more likely to get it signed quicker than when they take a hard copy home to read. You’ll also get instant notification when it has been signed, rather than having to wait for them to bring the signed hard copy back into the office. You then just need to ensure both parties have a permanent record of the signed employment contract at the end of the process.


Contract clause

Where you do plan to use an e-signing platform, use our Electronic Signatures Clause in your employment contracts. It confirms that the contract can be signed by the employee using an e-signature through your platform and that this shall have the same legal status and effect as if they had signed an original copy using a handwritten signature. It also states that the e-signature is admissible in evidence in legal proceedings, both to prove the employee’s identity and their intention to sign the contract. Finally, we’ve reserved the right at any time for you to vary the type of e-signature that you use.