Author: Marcel Kurz

How to sign employment contracts electronically

The labor market is subject to constant change. This means more than frequent confrontation with differences for the human resource department. Instead, it offers numerous new opportunities for recruiting and human resources management. The electronic signing of employment contracts contributes to the completion of digitalization and brings several advantages for all parties involved.

Digitization of human resources


Increasing digitalization means that almost all processes - including HR processes - take place digitally or online, from the publication of job advertisements to online applications and video interviews. And even pay slips are now often transmitted online instead of being sent by post in paper form. Numerous companies already use appropriate recruiting software for their recruiting, which not only saves costs and time but also significantly simplifies processes. It was, therefore, only a matter of time before the digital signature became established in companies. The following guide explains the extent to which the digital signature is valid for employment contracts and other essential employment documents.

How can I sign an employment contract electronically?

According to the German Civil Code (BGB), the conclusion of employment contracts, such as open-ended or part-time contracts, is generally free of formal requirements. This means that employment contracts can be concluded in writing and orally or through a digital signature. This also includes all addenda and amendments to the original contract. Accordingly, a handwritten signature is only required if the law expressly imposes formal requirements. Thus, the electronic signature can be used for simple employment contracts, which can be concluded digitally without obstacles. After signing, all parties involved receive a digital copy of the corresponding document and access to an evidence file - the so-called audit trail. If the company has linked the platform to an electronic archiving system, all HR documents can be stored securely.



Advantages of signing an employment contract digitally

Progressive digitalisation is also making its way into human resources. This includes the digitalisation of almost all processes - including the electronic signing of employment contracts. This offers a multitude of advantages:

Fast and cost-saving

The digital signature accelerates the contract's conclusion and ensures faster processes. Processing times, for example, through printing and scanning, are eliminated, and feedback is provided quickly. This makes the recruiters' daily work easier.

Secure and easy

The digital signature offers a high degree of security for communication. In addition, the corresponding document is reproduced in a single medium, which is a great relief, especially without a printer.

Paperless and sustainable

Eliminating the need to print out documents is good for the environment. One reason for the expansion is the increased use of home offices. Documents can be processed and transmitted digitally - even by several parties.


The idea of a completely paperless office is excellent but not realistic at the moment. Which documents can be digitized and which cannot depend on which signature forms are legal. More on this later.


Requirements of an electronic signature on employment contracts

The electronic signature is quickly set, but for it to be valid, it must fulfill several criteria:

  • The document must be complete and not modifiable.
  • A system that identifies the signatory must be included.
  • A digital certificate on the document is required.

Types of employment contracts for electronic signature

In principle, the electronic signature is valid on all employment contracts - including fixed-term and open-ended contracts, part-time contracts, freelance contracts, and temporary employment contracts. Likewise, all documents associated with the employment contract, such as ...

  • health insurance,
  • copyright declarations, 
  • confidentiality clauses,

... can be signed digitally. This promises a smooth onboarding and facilitates the start of work. Furthermore, the digital signature from a distance is a suitable solution for employees in the home office.



For other HR documents, you can sign with an electronic signature.

In addition to employment contracts of all kinds, the digital signature is also of interest for several other relevant employment documents. Companies and employees can also use it for all documents in the digital personnel file, which ensures a secure exchange with all parties involved and, at the same time, a better organization of the HR department. These other documents that make use of the electronic signature include:

  • Job description
  • Annual appraisals
  • Holiday application



HR documents that require a handwritten signature

Although the electronic signature speeds up and simplifies numerous processes, there are still some documents where the digitization of human resources can reach its limits. There are some documents for which a handwritten signature is usually required. Indeed, the freedom of form mentioned above does not apply to every HR-relevant document. The following documents generally require a handwritten signature:

  • Notice of termination of employment contract
  • Employment references or other certificates
  • Company agreements
  • Parental leave agreement

Digitalization continues to advance, especially in recruiting or employee lifecycle management. Today, a qualified electronic signature offers a solution in these areas, as this digital signature is legally equivalent to a handwritten signature. Thus, the electronic signature significantly facilitates everyday work in human resources management and enables efficient cooperation between different parties regardless of time, place, and platform.

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