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I have a job offer letter from a company that I am being asked to accept and (electronically) sign.

My concern is that the offer letter refers to certain documents (Employee Confidentiality Agreement, Non-Compete Agreement, and a document with specific details of how bonuses are determined) that were not included. The offer letter seems to say that by accepting it, I am also accepting the Confidentiality and Non-Compete, but I am not sure.

After inquiring whether I can see those other documents, the HR person said I will get them after accepting the offer.

Am I right to be concerned?

For reference, here is the anonymous legal text at the bottom of the offer letter:

I accept the Company's offer of employment contained in this letter, and I agree that the agreement arising from my acceptance of this offer, together with the Employee Confidentiality Agreement, the Non-Compete Agreement, and the policies of the Company, constitute the entire agreement between myself and the Company with respect to my employment by the Company.

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    I would take this to legal.stackexchange.com In net they are asking you to sign an agreement with attachments and not show you the attachments. What if that non-compete is general 2 year non-compete for an industry you are already working in? – paparazzo Sep 2 '15 at 16:53
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    Personally I don't think I've ever received these documents before my first day at the new job. That said, they should have no problem providing the documents to you now, you should simply have to request them. – stannius Sep 2 '15 at 19:48
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    All it says that there's no other agreement outside those documents and the contract, not that you're automatically agreeing to them by accepting the offer. – Amy Blankenship Sep 2 '15 at 22:48
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    @Frisbee I think you mean law.stackexchange.com – robert Sep 4 '15 at 15:27
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I've seen it both ways. When you don't get the documents in advance it's usually due to sloppiness or them just not having a good process, not because they're trying to hide something, in my experience. Assume that the HR person just hasn't made the connection that you need to see them now as opposed to eventually -- he wants to help you get what you need but just doesn't realize what that is. Try something like this:

I know you said I'll get these documents later, but I'd really like to see them before signing something saying I accept them. Is there some way you could send me copies?

I haven't asked specifically for these kinds of documents in advance, but I have asked to see the details on certain benefits when the offer itself was vague, and as far as I can tell that hasn't raised any eyebrows.

(BTW, it kind of sounds like these documents actually are separate agreements, not that you're agreeing to them now, but that doesn't help you much. You don't want to accept an offer of employment and then end up refusing to sign one of those other documents even if it is separate; you'd rather know now.)

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I personally would not accept an offer until I had these documents in hand. What if you quit your current job and then find out that what they are legally requiring of you in these documents is unacceptable? (I've seen ones that basically state you can't work in your profession at all for two years.) At that point you have to sign or they could (and often would) rescind the offer and then you would have no job.

And think about whether you would want to work for a company that wants you to basically agree to legal terms of employment without letting you read them before you quit your current position? That is a company that will do similarly unethical things to you through your entire employment. I view this as being as unethical as the car dealership that once told me they couldn't give me a price fro the car until I put down a non-refundable deposit. I didn't buy a car from them and I wouldn't take a job from a company that refused to provide this information up front.

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In my experience, yes this is typical, and I've been working for over 3 decades now. For those companies that required non-compete agreements, my recollection is that I never received the documents for those agreements before accepting the job offer. That said, I don't remember asking to see them in advance either. Something to think about for the future.

  • @A-B-B: That's a puzzling comment, since I didn't encourage anything or offer any advice. I just answered the question in the title ("Is this typical?"), to which I said "Yes", with some elaboration. – GreenMatt Nov 10 '17 at 16:04
  • I don't believe it is typical. Moreover, I believe your answer sets a dangerous precedent. If an employer did this to me, I'd sue them in court. Employers are supposed to be transparent and upfront. – Acumenus Nov 10 '17 at 16:49
  • @A-B-B: It may not be typical in your experience, or even in the broader employment setting. However, I have seen it. Since you don't like what I've said, I suggest you answer the question yourself. – GreenMatt Nov 10 '17 at 17:01
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I accept the Company's offer of employment contained in this letter, and I agree that the agreement arising from my acceptance of this offer, together with the Employee Confidentiality Agreement, the Non-Compete Agreement, and the policies of the Company, constitute the entire agreement between myself and the Company with respect to my employment by the Company.

All that agreeing to this paragraph is saying is that you do not have any other promises or contingencies to your employment that are not included in these documents. For instance if you had some sort of relocation package promised that is not included in the offer document or the policies of the company(or that fall outside of the normal parameters of the company policy) you will want to have that documented and listed in that paragraph otherwise you at the mercy of the company as to whether or not they honor it.

This protects the company from claims you might have had like offers of equity, promises of raises or promotions, or other fringe benefits not listed in the documents. These promises may have been made with out the company knowledge and unless they are listed in the documents you are basically agreeing that those offers do not exist and you have no right to demand they be fulfilled in court or as an employee. So if you have any of these promises now is the time to talk with your Contact about them and make sure they are covered in one of those documents or get an addendum which includes them before you sign anything.

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