I have just accepted an offer for a new position, and have recently been filling in all the paperwork required.

I'm relocating to a new city over 2 hours away, so my current employer has been aware I'm leaving for a while now.

However in the offer letter to me from the new employer, they state that I will not receive or sign a contract until my starting day.

This is not something I have experience before and realise it opens me up to complications and potentially no job if I turn up on the day and they immediately dismiss me. At least with a contract they would have to give me a notice period.

Also what if I don't agree to some of the terms? This leaves me little room to negotiate.

I doubt the company would do this to me, they are very large and in the public sector. They are also currently employing contractors to the role I would take, so I'm sure they are desperate to get me in and save their costs.

Is this very normal and am I worrying over nothing?

I'm in the UK, if it helps.


You are probably worrying over nothing. Large organisations often take far to long to get the basics sorted out. I assume that you've got some form of written confirmation from them? Even just an email saying "looking forward to seeing you on Monday" will do.

If you are worried, drop the HR department an email saying something like:

Just a note to confirm that you want me to start on DD/MM/YYY for the position of Senior Pizza Chef.


I certainly wouldn't regard this as common practice in the UK; certainly not in my industry (IT). I don't really see why a company would ever do this, unless they've been burned in the past by people seeing the contract terms and being scared off, so they're now attempting to keep those terms from the potential employees as long as possible. Any employer/employee relationship has to work for both sides of the deal, and attempting to hide the details of that relationship from one side or other of the party doesn't seem to be a productive step to me.

Personally, I'd never accept an offer without seeing the contract terms - I'd probably go as far as to say that you don't really have an offer until you've seen the contract; as you say, there may be terms that you find unacceptable.


I don't know if it is common but I have signed my contract on the day I started at my last two jobs. I think you're worrying needlessly about this as I assume certain key points like pay are in your offer letter?

There is always a contract between an employee and employer. You may not have anything in writing, but a contract will still exist. This is because your agreement to work for your employer and your employer’s agreement to pay you for your work forms a contract. Your employer does have to give you a written statement within two months of you starting work. The statement must contain certain terms and conditions.

So legally you don't even have to have a written contract at all, although how it differs from a written statement you'd have to ask a lawyer. I wouldn't imagine any respectable company doesn't give you a proper contract.

Generally, you and your employer can agree to whatever terms you wish to be in the contract, but you cannot agree to a contractual term which gives you less rights than you have under law (see under heading How the rights in an employee’s contract relate to rights in law).

So they can't offer you less than the legal minimum conditions even if you're willing to agree to them.

If the job offer was subject to conditions, for example, the employer needed to take up references or you were required to have a medical, and these were unsatisfactory, you will not be able to make a claim against the employer for any compensation. This is because there was never any contract of employment. There was only a conditional offer of a job and the conditions have not been met.

If the job offer was unconditional, which is unusual, you may be able to claim compensation in the employment tribunal or the county court (Court of Session in Scotland) for breach of contract. This is a breach of contract because you were offered the job with no conditions, you accepted the offer and then the offer was withdrawn.

So if your offer letter contains no clauses you could try to claim compensation from them. However I really think you'd only need to cross that bridge when you came to it.

All quotes were taken from citizens advice. link

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.