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Quitting a new job before starting

  • 29-09-2021 9:32pm
    Registered Users Posts: 373 ✭✭


    Has anyone experienced a situation where someone accepts an offer for a job with a new employer, signs a contract, and is due to start the new role in 4 weeks, however 1 or 2 weeks before the start date they reach out to the new employer and tell them they won't be joining the company as they have got another job offer elsewhere?

    Is this legal?

    Does it happen often?

    I know the minimum notice an employee or employer must give is 1 week if the length of service is between 13 weeks & 2 years, unless a signed contract mentions a longer notice period (e.g. 1 month).



  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    It happens. It's legal. I've encountered it a few times. I wouldn't say it's common though.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,244 ✭✭✭alias no.9

    I've done it many years ago and as it happens someone who was due to start with my current employer has done it recently.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,696 ✭✭✭JoyPad

    As an employer, did you not interview several candidates before selecting one to make an offer?

    Same thing happens to a candidate: they go to several interviews, and, if possible, use your offer to get a better one elsewhere. It's also possible to use your offer to get a bump in his current position.

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,397 ✭✭✭✭28064212

    Dependent on the sector. In some areas, it would be practically expected. Some employers will literally "overbook" postitions, on the expectation that some offers will fall through.

    Legality would very much be dependent on exact circumstances. More importantly, convenience, cost, and practicality trumps legality in almost every situation. A C-level exec who might have had a long negotiation, numerous pre-conditions, and is a once-a-decade appointment - might end up in court. A Penney's low-level employee - absolutely no chance

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  • Registered Users Posts: 373 ✭✭JimmyCorkhill

    Out of interest on the legality of it, in the example I gave, employee signs a contract to start on X date but 2 weeks before X date they inform the new employer they won't be taking up the offer anymore.

    What is illegal there? Out of curiosity.

    Do they need to honour the contract and start on X date while handing in notice on start date as they don't want to be there.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 10,397 ✭✭✭✭28064212

    As I said, it depends on the exact circumstances. What are the exact terms of the contract? What are the circumstances of the person and company involved? Has either been substantially disadvantaged? Did the potential employee gain access to commercial or competitive information in the hiring process that they can now make use of? Is the company now significantly negatively impacted in some way (having to ask the next person in the list does not qualify; having a time-critical position unfulfilled might be)?

    Even if the person broke the terms of the contract, and the contract was considered to be binding (it may not be, you can't contract someone's rights away), a judge may well still be able to apply a "reasonableness" test - C-level exec may have certain expectations on them, a minimum wage position not so much. And further, even if the judge was bound by law to find against the person, actual damages would be extremely difficult to justify: how has the company been harmed? Is it worth spending €50,000 on legal fees to win a €1 award?

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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,733 ✭✭✭OMM 0000

    As an employer, it's annoying, but it's also a bullet dodged.

  • Registered Users Posts: 25,490 ✭✭✭✭Mrs OBumble

    It happens. I've had someone start and not come back from morning tea. And someone quit on day 2.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    They simply won't turn up on day 1. I would advise notifying prospective employer that it's ' work related stress' at the prospect of beginning employment in that particular company. End of story. As my dear ole granny used to say " you can take a horse to water but you can't make him drink"

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  • Registered Users Posts: 901 ✭✭✭usernamegoes

    It's not a bullet dodged. A person has been offered a better job, not sure why you think they'd be a bad worker based on doing the best for themselves.

  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators Posts: 9,787 Mod ✭✭✭✭Jim2007

    From an employer's point of view, it is usually cheap that the go early rather than send a few months training them etc... so ya it is a bullet dodged.

  • Registered Users Posts: 901 ✭✭✭usernamegoes

    That assumes that they would go early, once they started. They might have started the job and loved it and stayed for years. This says nothing about them other than they look out for their own interests which every employer should just assume anyway.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,115 ✭✭✭job seeker

    Not come back from morning tea? 😮 Damn, they could have at least called you and been honest! Appears you dodged a bullet anyway with the "employee"..

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,733 ✭✭✭OMM 0000

    Why are you ignoring the fact they are breaking a signed contract?

    They have proved they are unreliable and cannot be trusted, hence a bullet dodged.

    Just so we're clear here: you're ok with employers breaking signed contracts?

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,191 ✭✭✭SouthWesterly

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,733 ✭✭✭OMM 0000

    IF you don't have a contract which states the required notice period.