Introduction to this document

Letter requesting return of contract of employment

Use our letter to chase an employee where they’ve failed to sign and return their contract of employment within a week or so of you issuing it. It enables you to put a system in place to stop unsigned contracts slipping through the net. Then, place a copy of the employee’s signed contract on their personnel file.

Sending a reminder

When you issue a contract of employment or a written statement of employment particulars which is expressed to constitute the terms of the contract of employment) to an employee, you will normally do so in duplicate and ask them to sign and return one copy to signify their agreement to its terms and conditions. In most cases, the employee will sign and return the document within a few days and you will then place it on their personnel file and that’s the end of the matter - those are the contractual terms they have agreed to be bound by, even if they didn’t bother to read the document. However, occasionally, you may get nothing back. Diarise to chase the employee after a week and use our Letter Requesting Return of Contract of Employment to do so. It requests the employee to send the document back immediately and as a matter of urgency and advises them to contact you if they have any queries on it or want to discuss any of its terms. In many cases, the employee will just have forgotten but, in some cases, they may not have signed because there are clauses they don’t understand or are not sure of. A quick discussion with the employee should hopefully resolve any concerns. If the employee still fails to return their signed contract or written statement, keep chasing them using our letter.

Deemed acceptance

Occasionally, your chasers may not work and the employee will still fail to return a signed copy. In this scenario, our letter states that if the signed copy is not received by a set deadline, you will assume, by their continued working without objection, they have accepted all the terms and conditions of employment as stated in the document. Can you legally make such an assumption? There is a principle in law called deemed acceptance - what this means is that the longer an employee works under the terms of a contract without specifically objecting to it, the more likely it is that they will have impliedly accepted the terms by their conduct, provided they’re fair and reasonable. This will be the case in relation to the contractual provisions that operate on a day-to-day basis, such as pay, holidays, hours of work, etc. However, it generally won’t apply to those terms that have no impact until later on, such as notice periods and restrictive covenants. We have tried to deal with this by expressly providing that the assumed acceptance is also of any terms which may have no immediate practical impact and we have cited the notice period clause as an example, but, in reality, it’s unlikely that this will be the legal position. Therefore, do keep chasing the employee until you get their signed document back. There is no set amount of time after which deemed acceptance applies - it will depend on the circumstances of the case.