I had a job where I worked a couple weeks for a temp agency. The hours were long and they owe me a large amount of money, which I need. The other day I got an email saying they had forgotten to get me to sign the contract for employment. The job is already finished, and essentially they are withholding pay until I sign and send in the contract. Now, the contract is fairly standard and nothing really bad about it. Though I feel very uncomfortable and this was unprofessional of them. The contract did contain information that would have allowed me to do my job better if I had received it before work (for example knowing the hierarchy of the team).

I already have in writing my work schedule and pay rate. This contract is mostly legally jargon e.g. “we will not claim any responsibility or liability for any accident while attending training sessions or during any event you work or for damaged or lost personal belongings.”

One part of the contract said I must show up 15 minutes before each shift and can’t be late. I didn’t know to do this so I didn’t. Is it even legal to include this as it’s unpaid work? Anyway, at this point what’s my best course of action? I would like to just sign it and get my pay but was thinking I could include a message in the email that I was unaware of this prior to work. According to the law, the date the contract is signed is when it becomes enforceable, so I’m not sure if signing it now could make a difference? No incidences occurred during this work and I don’t think anyone plans on suing anyone.

EDIT: I don't think hiring a lawyer is a practical solution as I would end up loosing money and making none.

closed as off-topic by nvoigt, gnat, Draken, The Wandering Dev Manager, Mister Positive May 15 '17 at 10:51

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  • You will need to talk to a lawyer for your jurisdiction. It sounds like it's only paperwork though, if you are ok with the pay and they are ok with the job you did, maybe you want to save that money. In the end, it's your call. – nvoigt May 15 '17 at 8:57
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    Well the official motto is still "If you like it, put a contract on it". Didn't you think it was suspicious that they didn't make you sign anything before starting work ? Might be a strategy for free work. – sh5164 May 15 '17 at 9:00
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    @sh5164 if they specified the dates and pay in writing, this probably would count as a contract. See law.stackexchange.com/questions/8216/… and law.stackexchange.com/questions/1899/… – ArtichokeS May 15 '17 at 9:08
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    You mean you forgot to sign a contract? I'm not sure what your actual question is here. I suggest signing, getting your money and moving on instead of making a big deal about nothing. For anything else you'll need a lawyer. – Lilienthal May 15 '17 at 9:58
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    What are your concerns about signing it? Are you afraid that they will claim you didn't show up 15 minutes early and use it as an excuse not to pay you? Date it with the date you signed it rather than the date you "should have" signed it. You could also discuss that point with them, it might all just be a formality... – colmde May 15 '17 at 10:52

If there is nothing particularly objectional in the contract I'd suggest you sign it. It's quite plausible that the agency cannot process your payment without a signed contract and I assume getting paid for your work is the goal here?

While it was a bit crappy of them to forget to send you the contract to sign you have to remember that mistakes in paperwork and admin happen, remember the employee's of the temp agency are human too! Are you really prepared to make an issue over it when we are talking about a job that you have already done and finished?

If I'm interpreting the question correctly the job went smoothly and there were no issues with your work so even though there are minutiae that would have helped you do "better" (such as the clause around arriving 15 mins early etc) what difference does it make now? I would have thought if any of these things were an issue they would have been brought up during the employment period.


Ok. I am assuming you have learned why not to start actual work until you have a signed and countersigned contract in hand - so that is all I am going to say about that matter.

Now, I am not quite catching your question. Can they withhold pay until you sign? Yes... but not for long. Any half decent lawyer would realize that if they are late on something so rudimentary as contracts, the rest of the company paperwork must be a cesspool as well - and start digging, and before long you will have your pay.

As for the 15 minutes before shift thing - if you didn't know, and no contract or detail around this was explained to you, then they have no reason to dock your pay. No need to bring this into attention at all. Again, if they are sloppy with something so rudimentary as contracts then odds are that they have not noticed.

Best course of action. Smile, sign the contract (Sign with name(s) and date) , make sure to count the money you recieve (and be immediately prompt if it is late), tell everyone what a pleasure it has been and then, in my opinion, don't work for them again - but the last bit is totally up to you.

Edit: as a PS, you did not say which country it was, but assuming they have a fairly strong rule of law, i.e. not a third world country - I would still do it as I wrote it...

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    Actually a contract does not need to be signed (or even written down) to be legally binding. law.stackexchange.com/questions/8216/… – ArtichokeS May 15 '17 at 9:06
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    @ArtichokeS Yes, I am aware, but often - and this is highly country dependant the difference between an unwritten contract and a written contract is in years of litigation and thus most interesting to those that can afford the lawyers. Where I am, in Norway, there is a quite strong protection even for unwritten contracts, but I have friends in different european countries, and have second hand experience in how hard it is to enforce an unwritten contract... – Stian Yttervik May 15 '17 at 9:42
  • @ArtichokeS The answers in your link point out that while a signature is not required, the parties must agree; signing is the easiest way to ensure there can be no doubt about that point. – Brandin May 16 '17 at 6:45

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