Offering and negotiating as an employer

You should be open to negotiating terms in the employment agreement if an employee requests changes.

Making the offer

Usually, when you offer someone a job you give them a letter offering employment, with the draft employment agreement attached to the letter.

You can download and adapt our sample letters of offer to suit your needs:

  • Offering employment where there is no relevant collective agreement in place

Letter 1  [DOCX, 20 KB]

  • Offering employment where the person is a member of a union and that union has a collective agreement

Letter 2  [DOCX, 21 KB]

  • Offering employment where the person is not a member of a union with a collective agreement, but the individual employment agreement will be based on the collective employment agreement

Letter 3  [DOCX, 22 KB]

  • Offering employment where there is a relevant collective agreement, the person is not a member of a union that is a party to that agreement and the individual employment agreement is not based on the collective employment agreement

Letter 4 [DOCX, 15 KB]

Writing the employment agreement

When you offer a job, you must give your employee an employment agreement. 

Collective and Individual employment agreement

Once you have created a draft employment agreement, you should:

  • provide a copy to the employee and give them time to read it and get advice about it, before they start work
  • discuss and consider compromising on any terms they are not happy with
  • make sure they agree to the conditions before they start work.

Signing the employment agreement

You should both sign the employment agreement.

If the employee does not sign it but does not say they do not agree to it and starts working for you, the employment agreement could still apply to them, unless:

  • they can show they did not agree to all or part of it, or
  • some part of it is unlawful.

After they've signed

The employee’s employment agreement:

  • should be kept in a safe place so you can refer to it and give the employee a copy if they ask
  • can be changed by agreement between you and the employee.


Unfair bargaining

When you negotiate a new individual employment agreement or make a change to an existing one you have a duty of good faith to your employee, and you must make sure that unfair bargaining does not take place. The best way to avoid unfair bargaining is to make sure employees receive independent advice before signing an employment agreement.

Unfair bargaining happens when:

  • the employee is at a significant disadvantage
  • you as an employer knew, or ought to have known, about the circumstances leading to the disadvantage.

An employee can be significantly disadvantaged if they:

  • cannot understand the agreement or its implications properly because of reduced ability
  • reasonably relied on incorrect advice (for example, if you told them the wrong information about the legal effect of the terms of the agreement)
  • were convinced to enter into the agreement by unfair means, for example, a threat or pressure to accept
  • did not have the information or opportunity to ask for further advice about the agreement.

It’s best practice to make sure the employee:

  • understands the terms of the agreement
  • has time to take the agreement away to read it in detail and get advice
  • does not feel pressured to accept the agreement.
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