Hi,I'm a permanent employee at company A (major financial institution) in London, UK. I got an offer from company B (another major financial institution), still in London. I accepted the offer, signed it, returned it and gave notice with company A. This happened three days ago. Notice period: three months.Now my current employer has counteroffered in a spectacular way, something that I really don't want to lose out on. I know that, if I accepted, I'd burn bridges with company B forever, and possibly even with the recruiter. Fair enough, calculated risk. It's also *very* unprofessional but this is the time to be selfish (or so they say).What really concerns me is: Can company B take me to court? I've done my research so I know that technically they could, but my question is: How likely is it that they will actually do? Even if it's only a few days, they could claim expenses from head hunters, background check companies (I know they're already working on me), etc. Or maybe they would want to "teach me a lesson" and force me to join and resign on day one, so this one-month (the notice period I would have with company B) employment period would forever remain as a stain on my CV. Am I being paranoid or is this a possibility?Thanks
Hello and thank you for your question, which I will be happy to assist you with. Please let me know if you had a contract with Co. B and if so - did it have a notice period?
I signed an offer letter (not sure if it qualifies as a contract). There is a six-month probationary period, during which I have one month notice. After the six months, if I'm confirmed, it's three months' notice. I signed three days ago, and the offer is of course a conditional one, subject to all sorts of background checks.
It is quite rare that employers would go and sue an employee who has not gone ahead with an offer. However, it has happened. The issue is predicting whether this would be the case here - it is impossible to say. No one can predict how an employer would react in these circumstances and whether they believe this is worthy of taking to court. It can vary greatly from one employer to another.
At this stage it is likely that a legally binding contract is in place, albeit a conditions one (however bearing in mind the conditions are nothing you can really control). So if you renege on the contract you will potentially be in breach of contract.
The employer can consider suing for breach of contract and seeking compensation for any losses incurred as a result of this breach. In this case you have correctly identified these would be any fees linked with the recruitment process to date and to find a replacement.
They can't really force you to start the job, so the issue of them doing that and then sacking you is not really a problem. The problem is the potential of being sued but as mentioned whether that happens is anyone's guess - although still a potential risk.
Expert in UK Employment Law
Hello, Following our recent conversation, this is just a quick follow up to see how you are getting on and to check if my advice has been helpful in dealing with your query? I look forward to hearing from you.Regards, Ben
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