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You Don’t Need to Sign a New Contract

There is a worrying trend emerging in Independent schools of rolling out to all current ongoing employees a new generic employment contract to sign and return – often under the guise of tidying up the records.

The advice is DON’T SIGN and the employer cannot compel you to sign. There are multiple reasons for not signing.

The new documents take the form of a letter or contract offering a new employee employment and, by signing, the employee thereby accepts employment on those conditions.

But existing employees have already accepted employment and have often been employed for decades.

Employers are quick to bemoan that previous HR records are not consistent and may be patchy, but you cannot re-write that history. The new contracts run the risk of introducing new restrictions and obligations and of negating original individually negotiated terms at appointment. There is generally a clause saying that this is the “Entire Agreement” and supersedes any previous agreements.

There may also be clauses relating to

  • An extensive list of reasons for instant dismissal, when legally each case rests on its own facts
  • An over the top and inappropriate clause on Intellectual Property
  • Probation when that may have been completed decades ago

The IEU welcomes initiatives that would update employees on current conditions and policies, but not under the guise of a new offer of employment.

You would only consider renewing a contract of employment if there were improvements to current conditions and no offsetting reductions. Beware any innocuous looking land mine clauses.

The advice is two-fold:

  1. Ongoing employees cannot be compelled to sign a new contract as the old employment contract is still valid – So don’t sign!
  2. Bring any attempts to do so to the attention of your organiser or the IEU Office directly for more detailed advice.

If you are unsure, contact us ASAP – 8410 0122