This checklist will help you assess a new contract of employment before you sign it.


We believe that the nursing workforce should be recognised and valued through fair pay, terms and conditions (Standard 4 RCN Nursing Workforce Standards).

A contract is a legally binding document. You should always read any contract fully and make sure you understand it before you sign it. This checklist may help you evaluate the contents of a contract before committing yourself. Please also see our advice about existing contracts (including when they can be changed).

If you have been offered overseas work, read more about contracts and working overseas.

NHS employees 

If you are employed by the NHS it is likely that you will be offered a contract that incorporates the national NHS terms and condition of service, or a document that mirrors those terms if you are not directly employed in the NHS. You can check the full terms and conditions and read our advice about Agenda for Change.


During your employment your employer is vicariously liable (is responsible) for your actions and omissions and should have appropriate indemnity insurance in place to cover you. You can read more about this in the RCN indemnity terms and conditions. If there are any concerns about you cover, raise these before you sign and contact us if there are any problems.


A secondment is the name given to temporary work that is assigned to an employee in a different area from which they are already working in. You can use the below tips to help you check a secondment offer. Read more about secondment contracts.