I have requested a copy of my contract but 10 days later still haven't received it. How long before they have to / should respond?

  • 3
    As a rule, I always require an immediate copy for me of documents I am signing, be it at a job negotiation or at the bank. Any refusal is deemed as abusive, and I wont sign it. As for the actual copies that have to be signed by this or that person, they can take a month or two, I do not care, for me it does not make difference. For people with a house mortgage, it may make a difference for showing them at the bank. Your question is not exactly that verbose on details why it is being asked. Commented Feb 10, 2020 at 12:31
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    With zero details in the question, this cannot be answered. Maybe the only HR person is out sick? How would we know? You should get a copy immediately upon signing (matter of fact both parties should sign both copies) anything else would be seen as a scam where I live.
    – nvoigt
    Commented Feb 10, 2020 at 12:54
  • Why did you need to request a copy of your contract? Normally you should get a copy of the contract before signing it? Did you get one and lose it? Or did you never get one? Have you even signed your contract yet? Please edit to clarify.
    – sleske
    Commented Feb 12, 2020 at 9:40
  • Where are you / the company based? Without that detail we can't tell what laws apply, and therefore cannot answer how long before they have to respond.
    – AndyT
    Commented Feb 12, 2020 at 11:08
  • How long after what? You should have it before you give notice at your previous employer.
    – user111472
    Commented Feb 12, 2020 at 11:24

4 Answers 4


In a decent and well-organised company, on your first day at work you go into an office with HR, they have two copies of the contract, they sign one and hand it to you to keep it, and you sign the other one and hand it to them to keep it.

  • In a well organized company, that formality takes place before you hand in your resignation with your future former company.
    – nvoigt
    Commented Feb 11, 2020 at 8:19
  • 1
    @nvoigt that depends on timing and location. Acceptance of the offer by both sides makes it legally binding in many jurisdictions, and signing may happen on the first day of work or even later if vacations or illness get in the way. Heck, I've accepted a job offer where the manager who had to sign the contract was on a foreign vacation from before the date I accepted to after the date I started. He'd approved the hiring budget so I could be hired but didn't see the contract until after I started.
    – jwenting
    Commented Feb 12, 2020 at 7:40
  • 1
    That sounds very dodgy to me. If you quit your job hoping your contract is fair when you arrive at your new company they have you in a vulnerable position but I guess different countries do things differently.
    – user111472
    Commented Feb 12, 2020 at 11:28
  • @jwenting "Acceptance of the offer by both sides makes it legally binding in many jurisdictions" in my jurisdiction, two signatures are the proof two parties consented to a contract. While verbal agreements are binding in theory, they are worth the paper they are written on in practice. You would need the other party to actually admit you had a verbal agreement and why would they do that.
    – nvoigt
    Commented Feb 12, 2020 at 18:25

I would NOT work for a company which does not provide a valid, properly-signed-by-all-parties contract, LATEST during the first day of work.

I would make an exception (but not more than a few days) ONLY if they provide a very reasonable reason.

If there is a reasonable motive to not have a proper contract in due time (i.e., more than a few days), then the company should release you a kind of "pre-contract", where they specify all the conditions of the contract, AND they mention that the proper contract will follow latest after XYZ days.


"How long before they have to / should respond?"

In most of the cases, for a contract being finalized, every involved party gets a valid copy of the contract, with all the authorization (signature, seal etc as applicable) as the contract gets signed. Considering the time taken for doing the due diligence (taking print out etc), I see no reason for not getting a copy on the same day as it's finalized / signed.

Unless you have a copy (either in an electronic format or a hard-copy/print out), there's no way you can claim anything about the contract.

Follow up immediately and push for getting yourself a copy ASAP.


If you accept the offer, the contract may take a very long time to arrive.

It may actually never arrive.

If you say, let me take a look at the contract before I accept, the contract is FedExed to you the next day (or in the next two business days at the very most).

Note: Please replace the word FedEx with the fastest method of delivery in your area. It could be DHL, Express mail, a messenger on a bike. Whatever is the fastest method of delivery in your area (assuming they don't use email or electronic signatures).

  • Well, the contract should be there when you arrive for your first day at work at the latest, unless something's gone wrong (I've had it happen that the CEO who had to sign it was on vacation from the day before I accepted to a week or so after I started for example).
    – jwenting
    Commented Feb 12, 2020 at 7:38

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