I've been working at a newly established firm for over a month and I haven't signed a contract yet.

HR kept telling me that they needed time to prepare contracts for everyone, but I've asked almost everyone else in my department and they've all said that they signed their contracts 2-3 weeks ago.

I asked the HR girl again and she said "Wow, you haven't signed your contract yet? Ok let me check and see what happened".

I agreed to a starting salary until signing the contract, and was told that after signing the contract the salary would be set depending on my position.

The firm has come together in a somewhat experimental way, allowing people to fall into their positions naturally.

Now that I've been with the firm for over a month, is it to my advantage or theirs?

Can I leverage the fact that I'm now established and comfortable in my position (i.e. they would need a few weeks to train a replacement to my level) and can I use this to negotiate a higher salary?

Or is it to their advantage?

  • Just how much you think you could negotiate based on it will take a few weeks to train a replacement? – paparazzo Oct 15 '18 at 23:04
  • You have agreed a contract verbally - you need to think how this appears – Neuromancer Oct 15 '18 at 23:07
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    @JoeStrazzere If I can, yes, because I was promised a better position than I have now, was being prepared for it for 2-3 weeks, and then it was given to the hiring manager's friend at the last minute with no explanation why. I'd be comfortable doing my current position at the salary of the other position, or with an explanation why I can't do the position I was promised and prepared for, but it seems he just wanted to give it to his friend and didn't think he needed to tell me anything. – user92235 Oct 15 '18 at 23:08
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    You may not think the position you have is fair but they are going to pay you based on that position you are in and are prepare to spend 2-3 weeks training. – paparazzo Oct 15 '18 at 23:33
  • This also depends on jurisdictions. There are some countries where the employment law says that if there is no signed contract, then certain standard terms apply. Those terms might be better or worse for you than what a hypothetical contract would say. – Philipp Oct 17 '18 at 8:47

That said however if you're going to cut your losses on a recent hire the sooner the better and a month really isn't that long in the grand scheme of things and for a company that hasn't even finalised the exact role the candidate will be performing yet those few weeks of taining will be as nothing. So in short you really don't have much (if any) leverage and I would say that if anything they are in a better than average position to just drop you if they percieve you as looking to hold them to any kind of "ransom".

PS: This whole model of making the staffing up as they go along sounds super weird to me. Sounds like they have the organisational/planning skills of a drunken blindfolded donkey!

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    Entirely agree. If OP has only been there a few weeks, I seriously doubt he's had time to get deeply involved in anything of significant value. It would be much easier to find a replacement and start over than to negotiate with someone who tries to hold his own non-existent contract as some sort of "hostage." – Steve-O Oct 16 '18 at 13:27

Can I leverage the fact that I'm now established and comfortable in my position (i.e. they would need a few weeks to train a replacement to my level) and can I use this to negotiate a higher salary?

You can always try. It doesn't seem like much in the way of leverage to me.

You already agreed to a pre-contract starting salary and agreed that your salary would be set depending on your position.

You will be going back on your word if you use your "leverage". You get to decide if that the way you want to come across in your new position in a new company.

It's not something I would do, but you could certainly try.

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    Your initial comment was the first thing that came into my mind. OP, "Is that the way you want to come across in your new position in a new company "? – Mawg says reinstate Monica Oct 16 '18 at 6:43

Given the model is allowing people to fall into their positions naturally your ability to leverage really depends on your performance over this first month. If you have demonstrated that you are performing at a leadership level then negotiating a leadership title and compensation should be natural. If you have performed at a junior level then trying to negotiate a leadership title will be very difficult.

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Not having a written contract is usually bad for both sides, but almost always worse for the employee than for the employer.

The reason is that when there is a disagreement about how much salary they need to pay the employee, then the employer is in a much better position. They can withhold payment, but the employee can not undo their work. Also, the employee is usually more dependent on their monthly salary than the employer is on their work. So the employer can bide time until the employee runs out of money and must agree to a detrimental settlement to pay their rent.

So bottom line, you want a written contract as soon as possible. You usually should not even start working without one.

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