In many countries, a 'contract of employment' exists as soon as an employee proves his acceptance of an employer's terms and conditions of employment, e.g. by starting work, after which both employer and employee are bound by the terms offered and agreed. A contract isn't always in writing, although employers must usually provide employees with a written statement containing certain important terms of employment and additional notes, e.g. regarding discipline and grievance procedures. A written contract of employment should usually contain all the terms and conditions agreed between the employer and employee.
You usually receive two copies of your contract of employment (which may be called a 'statement of terms and conditions' or an 'offer letter'), both of which you should sign and date. One copy must be returned to your employer or prospective employer, assuming you agree with the terms and want the job, and the other (usually the original) is for your personal records. There are generally no hidden surprises or traps for the unwary in a contract of employ?ment provided by a bona fide employer, although, as with any contract, you should know exactly what it contains before signing it. If your knowledge of the local language is imperfect, you should ask someone to explain anything you don't understand in simple English (employers rarely provide foreign?ers with contracts in a language other than the local language).
Further information is available in our Living and Working series of books.