I work for a small company and I'm looking to quit. I never received a copy of my contract, because I neglected to make my own copy, and I was never provided one.

Since it's a small company, there's no HR, no confidentiality, and asking for it will be a red flag that I'm thinking about leaving.

Does anyone have a good excuse to request a copy of one's employment contract that would not arouse suspicion?

P.S. This is not a duplicate of this question due to my not having an HR department nor any hope of confidentiality, "Just ask" or "You don't even have to provide an explanation." is not a valid answer, I need a good excuse. If it helps, I'm particularly interested in any non-compete clause it might contain.

  • 1
    I think the linked post pretty much covered most reasonable excuses - "you want to fact-check something you signed your name to", "- tax purposes, - real estate rental, - confirmation of employment by whoever, - my own records". Why wouldn't any of those work for you? Aug 23, 2018 at 21:32
  • Too vague, does anyone really need an entire employment contract for tax purposes? Why? Same for real estate. Would be nice to have something that will hold water. And asking for confirmation of employment is a great excuse for them not to provide the whole contract.
    – rb234
    Aug 23, 2018 at 22:01
  • If you don't have HR, who keeps the contracts? If it's a manager or director, that may require a different approach than if it's a clerk or admin assistant. Aug 24, 2018 at 17:08
  • It's much easier for the HR-equivalent to just hand over a copy of the contract than to look through it and give you the part that's relevant to what you gave as a reason. Dec 5, 2018 at 16:24
  • Please give your location for context, it would be illegal of them to not provide a copy if requested in some parts of the world.
    – user53718
    Dec 5, 2018 at 18:24

3 Answers 3


Blame your wife/girlfriend/parents.

"My wife is collecting important documents to put in a safe deposit box in case the house burns down. I think that's serious overkill but whatever. She insists my employment contract is part of that bundle and I have lost mine."

This also works well when negotiating on new cars and such. "My wife won't go for that".

Of course she can't actually be in the room with you when you say this.

Edit: The above is too detailed, something more like "My wife wants to read my contract" would be better. After that you can be vague, "I'm not sure. Something about not working without a contract".

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    @rb234 The deadline/urgency increase is "She's getting pissed". Aug 23, 2018 at 22:22
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    No need to make up a lie about it, just say "I was going through my personal files and noticed that I don't have a copy of my contract. Could I get one?"
    – Blrfl
    Aug 23, 2018 at 23:34
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    @Blrfl Agreed what I have is too complex... but he says he wants to blame someone and shifting the conversation to someone else's emotions works great if they're not in the room. This is a VERY old car salesman's trick. Aug 23, 2018 at 23:51
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    This really sounds like an over-the-top and very obvious excuse. Aug 24, 2018 at 8:56
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    One rather hard-line negotiation tactic is to deliberately cripple one's ability to give in further (or let it appear to be crippled). The car salesman would like to lower the price for you, but the manager won't allow it. I'd accept that salary for that position, but I don't think my wife would stand for it. Dec 5, 2018 at 16:28

Does anyone have a good excuse to request a copy of one's employment contract that would not arouse suspicion?

If it helps, I'm particularly interested in any non-compete clause it might contain.

Since it's almost certain that everyone's contract contains the same non-compete language, just ask a trusted co-worker about that clause. They might even give you a copy of that page.

Next time around make sure to keep your copy of all important documents.

  • "everyone's contract contains the same non-compete language" - wouldn't this mainly apply to people who started around the same time? It's certainly possible for such things to change over time. Aug 24, 2018 at 16:58
  • @JoeStrazzere this is what I've currently done so far and you're right, I've had to learn the hard way
    – rb234
    Aug 25, 2018 at 17:06
  • What if there is no trusted co-worker ?
    – MasterJoe
    Jun 24, 2019 at 15:00

I know the question is market with USA tag and this is out of my scope. However another shot I would consider as a safe and reasonable option is to mention you are going to take loan (especially for house). Backing up your income is important part of getting the loan.

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