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I have recently been offered a new job that was set up for me via a recruitment agency (I work in software development). I accepted this offer last week after emailing the recruiter that I have been liaising with on this reminding him that my official notice period is three months (I told them all this during initial talks with them during my search). He told me that this was acceptable to them, but if I could get it over with sooner, all the better.

He contacted me this morning to ask if I had found out from my current employer how long they were needing to keep me for, who had told me that they will need to keep me on for the full three months. He then apologised and told me that he had neglected to tell them that my notice period was three months and was instead one month. The new employer have told him that they will withdraw the offer if I cannot get my notice period down to six weeks. This is apparently due to a current employee of theirs leaving who needs to do some handing over of work to me.

I have already handed in my notice at my current place of work, and have informed my manager that I need to leave within six weeks due to the above reason. He has escalated this to the CEO who has not yet made a decision.

What are my options? What might be the best course of action?

EDIT: To answer some of the questions in the comments:

  • Both parties have already signed the new contract hence why I have handed in my notice
  • Consequence of leaving early without consent will mean a break in contract - leaving me vulnerable to potential legal battles
  • Have you signed anything with the new company? If you haven't, why did you give notice at your current place of work? – sf02 Feb 4 at 14:58
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    Do you have an option for buy-out the remaining for the notice period? Talk to the recruiter, he should be working on it already. – Sourav Ghosh Feb 4 at 15:01
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    I'm guessing that the 3-month notice period are in your contract - what are the consequences if you leave earlier? – David K Feb 4 at 15:10
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    Ah, IT recruiters, all the competence of Motor Vehicles workers combined with the honesty of Military recruiters and the moral character of used car salesmen. – Richard U Feb 4 at 15:14
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    "Both parties have already signed the new contract hence why I have handed in my notice". Both parties means you and the new employer? What start date is written in that contract? – Polygnome Feb 4 at 18:35
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The new employer have told him that they will withdraw the offer if I cannot get my notice period down to six weeks. This is apparently due to a current employee of theirs leaving who needs to do some handing over of work to me.

Offer to work with the current employee who is leaving on nights and weekends to do the handover work. Or as @fireshark519 wisely suggests, you can always try to offer your CURRENT place to do out-of-hours/weekend work for the reminder of the time.

What are my options?

Successfully negotiate a 6 week notice period, lose this offer or find a way to mitigate the need for joining within the 6 week period (as indicated about).

What might be the best course of action?

Make the offer as above and hope for the best, but keep looking for your next job.

If you haven't already done so, talk directly with the hiring manager, explain the confusion brought on by the recruiter, and see if you can come up with a satisfying solution together.

  • Thanks for the response. I'll be sure to inquire about out-of-hours working if it is at all possible – CMountford Feb 4 at 15:25
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    @CMountford you can always try to offer your CURRENT place to do out-of-ours/weekend work for the reminder of the time – fireshark519 Feb 4 at 16:16
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    +1 "talk directly with the hiring manager" – jean Feb 4 at 16:24
  • No serious company will hire a programmer who is monkeying about with the previous company ! Not sensible. – Fattie Feb 4 at 16:37
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Obviously the preferred option would be for your current employer to let you go at the six week mark - unfortunately this isn't something you can just rely on happening given it sounds like you have already asked and been told no.

What you could do however is try and seek a compromise on this with them - see if you can pin down exactly what they need doing from you, is it a hand over or a specific project that needs doing?

If so you could potentially see if they would let you do additional hours to get the work done within the 6 week timeframe, or possibly even a case of trading working evenings/weekends there in order to get time off during the week to spend at your new employer doing hand over there?

Trying to work out a compromise with your current employer is by far the best option - not only do you avoid exposing yourself to legal action but you'll want to keep the impact on your new employer as minimal as possible.

If they aren't you could (as Joe suggests) try a similar compromise with the new employer - this might be harder to gain traction on though as it relies on the departing employee giving up their free time in order to help you out and it's hard to see where the incentive is for them to do that, but if the only choice your left with is to walk out early (and breach contract) then it's worth asking the question at least!

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I just worked out a three month notice period. It was effectively three weeks of writing documentation, two of handing over and eight of gardening. Most companies get this done in 4-6 weeks easily enough, so the extra time is just insurance. Unless they've got extreme difficulty when it comes to recruiting your replacement, they'll almost certainly be prepared to let you go early.

Still, try to be as accommodating as you can and don't burn any bridges over this. Offering to do some evenings and weekends if you're still needed past the six week mark is a nice gesture, and make sure both your current and future employers know that it was the recruiter who put you in this situation too. You don't need to worry about burning them, as they'll be making a fat commission from having placed you.

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