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Offer Letter vs Employment Contract

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  1. #1

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    Aug 2020
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    Offer Letter vs Employment Contract

    I want like to ask for clarification regarding offer letters and employment contract in HK.

    1. Is it normal/legal practice in HK to treat offer letters as employment contracts as if they are the same document?

    I was offered a permanent position for an IT role and was asked to sign the offer letter with electronic signature. I asked if I can sign the employment contract but was told the offer letter is also the employment contract. And that I did not need to sign it in person, electronically signed seemed fine for them.

    I have not encountered this before, is this normal in HK? Thanks for all your help 🙏🏼


  2. #2

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    What’s the size of the offer letter? Which information of the employment contract is in there? Staff Handbook accompanied?


  3. #3

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    Offer letter is 20 pages. And it has some info that comes from employment contract. Staff handbook is not included in offer letter.

    Last edited by sw2k25; 01-08-2020 at 11:48 PM.

  4. #4

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    Whoa, that’s not a traditional offer letter! perhaps read the bunch with someone close or familiar with HR first, clarify with the company about anything you jotted notes for but don’t rush to sign.

    Quote Originally Posted by sw2k25:
    Offer letter is 20 pages. And it has some info that comes from employment contract. Staff handbook is not included in offer letter.
    shri likes this.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by sw2k25:
    I want like to ask for clarification regarding offer letters and employment contract in HK.

    1. Is it normal/legal practice in HK to treat offer letters as employment contracts as if they are the same document?

    I was offered a permanent position for an IT role and was asked to sign the offer letter with electronic signature. I asked if I can sign the employment contract but was told the offer letter is also the employment contract. And that I did not need to sign it in person, electronically signed seemed fine for them.

    I have not encountered this before, is this normal in HK? Thanks for all your help ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï ¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½
    My two previous jobs in HK have had offer letters that doubled as employment contracts.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jul 2012
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flapster:
    My two previous jobs in HK have had offer letters that doubled as employment contracts.
    My current job did it separately: interviewed and started training day after, received offer letter, underwent training, signed contract a few days/week after. My batchmate signed the same employment letter and left and finishing training.


    Different company, different jobs, different systems.

  7. #7

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    In my previous company, the offer letter plus the standard terms and conditions (separate document) together constituted the employment agreement. The offer letter was one page with key details (position, salary, annual leave,); the terms and conditions were 2 pages of table with everything else.

    Compared with the 20-30 pages of closely typed text I had had previously, much, much simpler!


  8. #8

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    May 2012
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    I think this is pretty common in HK as 2 out of 3 jobs that I had here asked me to sign employment contracts electronically. Offer letters (indicating position, role, compensation, benefits) were usually in the form of email and usually sent first. They're followed by employment contracts (more elaborate, with terms and condition) sent in pdf format and to be signed electronically.

    Husband had similar experience. Though his employment contract was signed on his first day at the office and the offer letter was just verbally accepted (email / phone call).

    Quote Originally Posted by sw2k25:
    I want like to ask for clarification regarding offer letters and employment contract in HK.

    1. Is it normal/legal practice in HK to treat offer letters as employment contracts as if they are the same document?

    I was offered a permanent position for an IT role and was asked to sign the offer letter with electronic signature. I asked if I can sign the employment contract but was told the offer letter is also the employment contract. And that I did not need to sign it in person, electronically signed seemed fine for them.

    I have not encountered this before, is this normal in HK? Thanks for all your help ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï ¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½

  9. #9

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    20 pages is non-standard for an offer letter - which is usually informal .. i.e. we'd like to offer you a position, these are the basic terms (Salary, start date, # holidays, reporting manager, place of work etc). An offer letter is usually not something that an employee is required to sign - but should have instructions on what the employee should do if they accept the offer.

    A contract is usually more clearly worded and should have specific legal terms and conditions including (if any) termination clauses, non-compete / proprietary issues and jurisdiction / place where the contract will be enforced.

    If really should only be sent to a prospective employee AFTER they've signaled acceptance of the offer, esp since a contract might have some sensitive info.

    But thats my way of looking at it and how I've implemented it.

    (Without knowing what is in the offer letter - it does seem like they've rolled two things into one)..


  10. #10
    bdw
    bdw is offline

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    The offer is an email. The contract is a PDF .

    Are you worried about digital signatures? I find HK backwards in that respect, but where I am in Australia now is standard. I bough an apartment in Australia last year, I had 50 pages of mortgage documents to sign, all using docusign, Adobe created my "BDW" initials for me which I had to accept on every page, then adobe create my full signature which I had to put on certain pages, uploaded to the bank. Then they sent me back a docusign "Certificate of completion" which summarised all the pages I signed or initialed, timestamp, UUID, IP address, etc all logged. Really printing, signing, scanning very backwards in this day and age.


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