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I have received a very good job offer at a company in finance after a long application process.

From the first day onward, I would be required to give notice of termination 6 months prior to the termination date, and I am entitled to receive the same. This seems common in this field.

However, there is a 3-months probation period, during which my employer would be allowed to terminate the contract with one week prior notice, but I don't get the same right. I was assured that it never happened that the company actually made use of the probation period rule, and it also never happened that someone wanted to quit in the very beginning (which actually does not surprise me, they seem great).

On the one hand, I feel it would not be so much to ask to include the week termination period for me as well, since there seems almost no risk that I would make use of it. I am very certain I will like it there. On the other hand, I would like to minimize risks.

Is it strange to ask for this? Would it sound as if I am not sure or I am afraid I might get cold feet?

Addendum: I would relocate from the US to Europe for this, this would show a certain level of commitment from my side as well.

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    If you add a specific country, we might be able to advise more specifically. As mentioned in the answer, equal length probation and notice lengths for employee & employer are legally mandated in a number of countries in Europe. – Erik Jan 22 '18 at 22:06
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    If the company "never made use the probation period rule", tell them they can surely strike it down then. Talking down to a prospective employee is definitively not kosher. It is rather naive you adding that detail to the question. Ultimately what counts is what is written and signed. – Rui F Ribeiro Jan 22 '18 at 23:22
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    A 3 month probation period seems excessive. A month is far more common, and it's symmetric: both parties can terminate the arrangement without any prior knowledge. As for notice of termination, in the Netherlands, it's common that the notice the employer must give is at least twice the period the employee needs to give. You better check with a lawyer whether an equal prior notice period is actually legal. – Abigail Jan 23 '18 at 1:01
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    In Finland, a 4 month probation with mutual right to terminate it is the standard. The maximum is 6 months, but that is rare. There is no notice period during that time. After it, the notice period is 2 weeks for the first 5 years of employment, and after that it is 1 month. – Juha Untinen Jan 23 '18 at 5:23
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    Both answers offered thus far are useful. The only thing I could add (which one did not go in-depth into) is to determine why such a long notice. If they are really going to have trouble replacing you then that works to your favor, surely other employers have the same problem (thus you could easily work elsewhere) or it's too one-sided. After a lengthy interview process, when they have trouble finding people, the last thing you would think that they would want to do is try to sour the deal. Do a job search in that location to see what the true story is. – Rob Jan 23 '18 at 7:40
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The probation period in several European countries works both ways.

Usually contracts also cannot subtract rights that are written in the law, and such clauses can be indeed deemed illegal in several countries.

I would never accept a one-sided probation period nowadays. On the other hand, I was an expat a few years, and I know first hand that it can be customary to apply one-sided probation periods for people going abroad for covering their investment. However I was working in Africa, and I am confident quite a few European countries enforce a dual sided probation period. I would let it go and accept the probation period because you need to focus on other issue.

A six month notice period is pretty abusive, and again almost all the same comments apply, excepting that is not that common. In practice, if enforced, it can deter you from changing positions. Most employers arent willing to wait six months for a new prospective hire. Try to negotiate it down to at least 3 months if it is not common to your industry.

You are not obliged to accept all the terms on a proposed contract and you can and are expected to negotiate it; if in doubt, talk with a lawyer specialised in European work law.

Be aware how the six-month notice clause is worded also. Depending on the wording, it might prevent you for getting another position for a significant period of time in the remote possibility they use the probation period. Or it might hide a non-compete clause in some other legalese.

Ask for a copy of the contract(s) before signing them and show them to a lawyer instead of asking random people in the Internet.

I also agree with the comments bellow the biggest no-no on this contract is the lengthy notice period; do not sign anything you might regret on your future.

If hired in the US by a firm with an American subsidiary:

  • You probably will have an US and you must have an European contract;
  • ask for both legs of the contract to show a lawyer, both the US and the European one;
  • Do not believe the white lie the European contract "will be just a formality";
  • Beware of clauses in the US contract deemed to get around rights given by European labour law.

I would consult a lawyer if I were on your shoes; I did not before signing my expat contract, being younger and more naive, and had it gone wrong I would be in big troubles (yeah, that kind of clauses "it never happened to us"...it sure did happen before, people gone sick, people that did not adjust well to the new country, people gone berserk with the new environment getting into drugs and drinking as I found out later through the grapevine ).

Finally, a prospective employer talking you down about clauses of a contract is an huge red flag that should not be ignored. Remember, HR are not your friend.

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    RE: the 6 months that's something that the individual needs to take into consideration. I wouldn't consider it abusive since it gives him the same protections. I wouldn't want 6 months personally though. – BirdLawExpert Jan 22 '18 at 21:54
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    6 months just seems excessive unless it's a senior management position. – Simon B Jan 22 '18 at 21:57
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    In one of my positions I did not accept abusive clauses in the contract. I have had colleagues striking down clauses with a pen before signing contracts. Do not forget a contract is a negotiation and they are getting an asset. – Rui F Ribeiro Jan 22 '18 at 22:00
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    I can’t agree more, and would be much more worried about the 6 months notice than the probation period. Indeed if the application process was so long there’s quite some chance the employment will last more than a few months, and if OP doesn’t feel right there that’s only a few months to wait before leaving. But indeed having to wait 6 months to switch jobs is a huge issue, as it will probably force OP to first resign then after a few months start to look for another job in order to be free reasonably fast if he gets it. – Laurent S. Jan 22 '18 at 22:01
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    Yeah I'd personally change it to 3 months. It being a longer term research position means it needs a certain type of person to fill it (which is why they want 6 months to find them) but I don't think you should give up your ability to immediately start looking. 6 months definitely makes that hard. You'd have about 3 months of knowing you won't have a job without being able to really look. The rest of the companies out there really don't want to wait more than a month or two. Definitely need to protect your future self. Future self will thank you always help future you – BirdLawExpert Jan 22 '18 at 22:04
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Probation periods tend to allow either party to give shorter notice (not just the employer).

And you can certainly either ask or insist that they change it so it goes both ways.

However:

  • This might be something the company is unwilling to change, especially if they're covering your relocation expenses.

  • It might indeed make you seem a bit undecided or unreliable, or perhaps like you're trying to take advantage of them (e.g. say they're providing sponsorship and said sponsorship would be easily transferable or would last sufficiently long after you've stopped working there).

As such, asking (and definitely also insisting) that it be changed can certainly put the offer at risk.

Although I wouldn't expect just asking to be particularly risky - if they're unwilling to change it, I'd expect the most common response to just be for them to tell you that and not withdraw the offer (if the employer is reasonable, that is).

As an alternative to proposing that it be the same for both sides, you can also consider proposing a notice period somewhere between 1 week and 6 months.


I'm assuming they're not doing anything illegal by proposing this one-sided probation period - as others pointed out, that might not be the case.

The 6 month notice period also seems excessive long to me, but I wouldn't be able to comment on whether it's the norm in your industry.

  • I actually use the negotiation phase on those sort of fine-tuning points to gauge wether it is a place I want to work. – Rui F Ribeiro Jan 22 '18 at 23:04
  • It is customary and expected for people to negotiate clauses; I have stricken down in the past too broad exclusivity and non-compete clauses. – Rui F Ribeiro Jan 23 '18 at 8:19
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In Germany a 6 month probation period is the maximum allowed in most circumstances, but that period is also quite common for most jobs. However it is not at all a requirement, and it is possible to negotiate a shorter or even no probation period at all. Waiving a probation period is really uncommon (and not sure why you would want that anyway), but there is nothing legally against it.

There is no circumstance where an employer can legally demand a shorter notice period than the employee gets.

During the probation period both employer and employee may terminate with a two weeks notice - a shorter notice period is forbidden by law. After the probation period the notice period for the employee is a minimum of 4 weeks to the 15th or end of the month, same for the employer. A 3 month notice period is not at all unusual for skilled employees, and prospective new employers don't bat an eye if they have to wait 3 months before you can join. etc etc...any point in continuing?

Europe is not a country Please provide a country tag as customs and laws vary quite a bit from place to place.

  • They vary indeed. Here in Portugal, you cannot waive the probation period, but you can introduce monetary penalties for senior management positions; without those penalties, during probation, both sides can just terminate at will any time. After probation, you have to give 1 month notice, and after two years, 2 months notice. I would not balk either at a 3 month notice, a 6 month notice is too much. – Rui F Ribeiro Jan 23 '18 at 12:58
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    I totally agree that a 6 months notice period is too long for me, but if that is standard for the particular field, in whatever mystery country we're talking about here, 6 mos might be perfectly reasonable and fully accepted/expected by new employers. – user82047 Jan 23 '18 at 13:15

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