When you start a new job, you’ll probably be asked to sign some documents. These can include contracts, like an employment contract or a training contract. It can also include documents like confidentiality agreements, incident reports or release forms.
Types of work documents you might sign
Types of documents you might need to sign at work include contracts and forms.
A contract is an agreement between you and your employer or training provider. Contracts are legally binding. This means they can be enforced through the legal system if either you or your employer don’t do what you agreed to do in the contract.
Contracts usually outline your rights and responsibilities, as well as the conditions of your employment.
An employment contract is an agreement between you and your employer. It might set out your pay, duties, how many hours you’ll work, any sick or recreational entitlements and other conditions.
An employment contract can’t offer you less than the rights and conditions set out in the National Employment Standards or any award or enterprise agreement. To find out more about awards and enterprise agreements, visit our What are employment contracts page.
If you start an apprenticeship or traineeship, you’ll be asked to sign a training contract. The training contract will be organised by an Australian Apprenticeship Network provider.
The training contract lists the legal obligations and training requirements for both you and your employer. Your training contract will be registered with the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA). If you have a problem with your training contract, you can contact VRQA on 1300 722 603.
Work documents and forms
You might be asked to sign other documents and forms at work. Signed documents and forms are official legal statements. For example, when you sign a form, you are saying that the information on the document is true.
When you sign another type of document, like a code of conduct, it means you’re agreeing to act in the ways set out in the document.
Documents you might have to sign at work include the following:
- incident report – if there’s an accident at your workplace
- confidentiality agreement –you agree that you won’t share sensitive information with people outside the organisation
- release form – stating that you give your permission to be photographed or filmed, and your image can be published or broadcast
- code of conduct agreement –you agree to act in certain ways while at work.
Keep these tips in mind when someone asks you to sign something at work:
- Read the whole document, even the small print. It’s okay to ask for more time if you need it.
- If you don’t understand something, ask someone you trust to explain it to you.
- It’s okay to ask for changes to be made to a document before you sign it.
- Make sure any changes or corrections you asked for have been included before you sign.
- Keep a copy of the signed document for your own records.
Never sign a blank or incomplete employment contract. Sometimes an employer might ask you to sign it, and tell you they’ll ‘fill in the details later’. If the employer asks you to sign an incomplete contract, ask them what is missing from the contract that will be added later. If you’re not happy with their answer, ask if you can sign it after the missing information is added. Make sure also to get a final copy of the contract.
For more information on contracts and documents at work, contact:
JobWatch is a statewide community legal centre specialising in issues for workers in Victoria, and offering free and confidential advice.
The Fair Work Ombudsman gives advice and helps you understand your workplace rights and responsibilities.