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I was told by email that I got the remote job with an agreed salary after a job interview from a US company. Then they gave me an email and Slack account for work, subsequently they asked me when can I start.

So I told them, I can start on a certain date if I give a notice to my current employer next Monday, but I need a written contract before that, just to be on the safe side to confirm that I really get the job.

And then in the Slack message, the interviewer told me it was really confirmed that I got the job and they don't usually send a written contract to any abroad employees. And so he outlined the agreed salary, paid leaves, & holiday leaves that entitled for me in the chat.

I don't want to push them to give me a written contract, and make them uncomfortable and retract the offer, should I take his word? And assume the chat messages is as a legal contract?

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    I would personally push for a contract. Whether iChat is binding or not is irrelevant. An actual contract is important for all kinds of reasons. The contract spells out who is responsible for taxes, starting date, notice period, who are the parties, etc. Don't accept the job unless you've seen the contract first (and any employee manual if the contract refers to it). Commented Sep 3, 2021 at 23:30
  • Are you actually a contract worker or are you supposed to be a regular employee?
    – BSMP
    Commented Sep 3, 2021 at 23:45
  • "Then they gave me an email and Slack account for work, subsequently they asked me when can I start." This is another red flag. Who does that? You didn't even give notice to your current employer and they're already giving you an email address and a slack account. How big is this company? 2 to 4 people? Did they even receive funding yet or are they "self-funded"? Even if they do send you the contract, you need to be careful. Lawyers are expensive and it's difficult to enforce a contract when you're located in a different country. Commented Sep 4, 2021 at 0:34
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    A contract can even be without words: buying a newspaper, tender the money, take the paper and change.
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Sep 4, 2021 at 5:58
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    That's typically done in an "offer letter".
    – Hilmar
    Commented Sep 4, 2021 at 12:03

2 Answers 2

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It is very rare for US employees to have an actual employment contract, so don't expect them to offer you one just because you are remote. Virtually all exempt employment here is "at-will," meaning they can fire you whenever they want (there are limits). Exempt means exempt from federal wage and labor laws that apply to hourly employees. I have been an exempt employee since I left the military decades ago and have never had an employment contract other than when I had a Services Agreement as a contractor. Only in the most senior positions, or positions where the employee has unusual skill sets or leverage in the employment negotiations, is a contract offered. The most you can generally expect is an offer letter. The other exception would be if the workplace and your new position were covered by a union contract, which doesn't apply to you since you aren't in the US.

And no, you should not assume the chat messages are a legal contract. You should consider them an offer of employment.

Now you might have rights in your home country, but enforcing those rights with a foreign company could be problematic.

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  • Thank you for your answer. I actually found a couple of links related that made your points more valid after reading your answer, reddit.com/r/AskAnAmerican/comments/k76kzh/… quora.com/… Commented Sep 4, 2021 at 7:10
  • The fact that US employees rarely ever get contracts is mind boggling to me as a European. I am not calling into question the accuracy of the statement, but it's completely unthinkable here, in Germany at least, for anything other than low-level employment.
    – Mookuh
    Commented Sep 5, 2021 at 9:11
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    @Mookuh I have worked in Malaysia, Singapore, and now New Zealand, it is also a foreign concept to me to work without any paperwork, unless of course if it's a low-level employment like you said. Anyway they agreed to provide one so all good. Commented Sep 5, 2021 at 11:52
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Maybe but if they broke the contract are you going to hire a lawyer in another country to pursue a case? And if that's unlikely then it's not so much about whether it's legal or not but do you trust them.

I wouldn't feel comfortable doing work for a company that says it doesn't give written contracts. I've worked for international companies and they sent me written contracts. In one case the company cancelled my work with them and forgot to pay me a five figure bonus that I was owed under the contract terms. I reminded them of that contract and then they paid me. I don't think that they paid me because there was a written contract. More like there was a formal contract because they're not con artists.

Sometimes a company will give you a written contract and intentionally rob you later but it's very rare in my experience. But I've seen verbal agreements broken many times and I'd say that a Slack text message is the equivalent to a verbal agreement when you realize that they can delete your access to those Slack messages anytime they feel like it. And yes, I've seen this happen. Massive promises were made and then revoked weeks later as if they had never been made. Sure, you could make copies of the messages before it happens but I think you'd just be making excuses for them acting suspiciously at that point.

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    @StephanBranczyk HenryM understood correctly, when I said chat messages I meant messages from the Slack account I have given Commented Sep 4, 2021 at 7:08
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    @sulaimansudirman, Ah ok, my mistake. Slack is worse because it's under their control. They can delete the thread and delete your Slack account. If you're willing to forgo the contract, at least ask them to send you the offer letter and the terms to your personal email. Also, clarify via email if you're a W2 employee or a 1099 independent contractor. This makes a huge difference. With all the vacation, you should be a W2 employee, but you never know. Also, it's easier to collect unpaid wages if you're a W2 employee. If you're an independent contractor, it's almost impossible without a lawyer. Commented Sep 5, 2021 at 6:18
  • @StephanBranczyk "Almost impossible without a lawyer" if they're in the US. Remote and overseas, nobody will want to take this on without a massive fee.
    – Nelson
    Commented Sep 8, 2021 at 3:41

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