I am looking at contract, which the employer is telling me they do not have to sign. My understanding is that all parties in a contract should sign to acknowledge the read and agree to the terms. This is specially concerning to me since the terms of the contract are in review and modification. I am almost certain that this document needs to be signed by all stakeholders. Would you agree? Are there employment contracts or other agreements which are only signed by the employee?

2 Answers 2


Contracts do not need to be signed by anyone.

Among other things (see What is a contract and what is required for them to be valid?) all that is required to form a contract is the consent of the parties.

If they give you the employment terms then they have consented to them. If you start work, then you have assented to them. No signatures needed.

  • The company's signature would be evidence that the document in fact reflects the terms they gave the employee. Without it, the company could claim that the company actually offered different terms, but that the present document was cerated by the employee who then signed it. Of course, without the company's signature, the employee might nonetheless have other evidence that the terms are in fact those offfered by the company, in which case the signature isn't necessary as you say.
    – phoog
    Sep 30, 2016 at 18:59
  • @phoog but that would be dishonest! Surely there aren't dishonest people in the world?
    – Dale M
    Sep 30, 2016 at 20:51
  • If there were no dishonest people in the world there'd be little need for many of the safeguards afforded by the law.
    – phoog
    Sep 30, 2016 at 20:53

@DaleM is bang on in that contracts do not need to be signed by anyone (in most cases) to be valid. Further, no one can force you to sign an agreement - but I don't think the answer should stop there.

If the company is refusing to sign the contract, then I would be EXTREMELY cautious of proceeding - particularly if the contract has variances from a standard contract you can demonstrate they routinely use. The problem is that if there is an issue (and really, if there is no issue, then none of this matters) and the contractual terms are favorable to you, they can turn around and say there was no agreement, simply a counter-offer which they did not accept.

I might be inclined to find out WHY they are refusing to sign it - if they lack authority to sign, they lack authority to deal ! You may want to point out to them that you are willing for them to make it clear - where they sign - that they are signing as an officer of the company and not in there personal capacity if its an issue.

If you can't get an agreement, and you still want the agreement, maybe they would be OK with them acknowledging receipt of the agreement in an email - in that case I would scan the agreement, attach it to the email, Generate A SHA1 HASH of the scanned file and mention - it in the email - and ask them to reply with receipt of the message. MAKE SURE YOU KEEP A COPY OF THE FILE - if there is later doubt as to the version they were accepting you can probably use this to establish the exact version of the contract.

  • I wouldn't bother with the hash myself (and if I did go to the trouble, I'd make it a SHA512 hash). A witness statement that this is the document you attached to your email of 29th August 2016 is going to be enough to convince a court unless they lie. If they lie, they can say "that isn't the hash in the email you sent to us" Aug 30, 2016 at 10:15
  • The contract is from a firm who hired me for a larger firm. I asked for the signature, and they told me these documents are never signed by the employer. I am to start the job in a week, and I signed the offer letter stating that I would have to give two weeks if I am going to leave. Should I insist on a signature or at least an email validation from both company for the modified contract?
    – maverick
    Aug 30, 2016 at 18:17
  • The two week notice may not be a huge issue since Virginia is an at will employment state. For some reason they are absolutely refusing to ask for the client's approval of the contract. At this I asked them to remove the client's name with the generic "client" and sign the document. Even then they could claim the signing person had no authority to sign or agree.
    – maverick
    Aug 30, 2016 at 18:49
  • I guess I do not need the client, larger firm, to sign the contract even though it has content regarding my obligations towards the client. They are saying they won't get the representative of the larger client to sign since this contract is between me and the smaller firm. I just do not want
    – maverick
    Aug 30, 2016 at 19:04
  • If the contract is pretty standard, done through a third party and does not pose any significant obligations over and above statutory ones on the employer, it probably does not matter that much if they sign it.
    – davidgo
    Aug 30, 2016 at 23:20

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