I've had an interview for the job in the company A and they offered quite a good contract to me and sent the Offer Letter. After the offer letter I have to pass the background check which the company promised will take 2 weeks in average. There was a delay from my side preparing the documents for background check, so 1 week passed there.

The problem is, by law I have to have a signed contract and be already working in a bit more than 3 weeks, although background check might take around 4 weeks, at worst 5 weeks. In this case I'm left in quite a pickle, and that quite does not satisfy me.

On the other hand as a safe measure I was finishing interviews for company B and they are presenting a contract to me that is on a safe side of things - I can start in 2 weeks and my documents and staying in country are safe.

I'm currently in consideration what to do next, and the question here is:

I have signed offer letter, but not actual contract with company A. Can I legally safely decline it, being in a background check and explaining that the situation became too risky for me?

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    Offer letters tend to be free-form - so it matters very much what exactly is written on the document you signed, as it would specify just what exactly you are mutually promising each other by signing. When your legal status hangs in the balance like this, you should take a copy of what you signed to a lawyer and get advice from them! As you are asking for legal advice, only a properly certified professional in your jurisdiction is qualified to advise you. – BrianH Jul 15 '19 at 18:08
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    This question in the form "I signed to Company A, now I want to change my mind" seems to be a recurring theme on here. Have a look on here - there are several with answers... – Solar Mike Jul 15 '19 at 18:14
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    "I have to have a signed contract and be already working in a bit more than 3 weeks". Is this because of visa considerations? – DJClayworth Jul 15 '19 at 18:29
  • Possible duplicate of I signed an offer. Can I change my mind? – berry120 Jul 16 '19 at 8:20
  • @DJClayworth yes, that's a visa consideration - I left my previous job without having a new offer, leaving me with up-to-3-months job search, and I have to have a signed contract before the end of search. – HonicTheSedgehog Jul 16 '19 at 20:00

From your question it sounds like you have made no formal commitment to company A. They made a conditional commitment to you pending a long background check.

If that's true, you can call and say you've decided to accept the offer from company B instead. If they ask why, tell them: "I need to get to work and they told me I can start on xxxx date."

Or you can say, "I have an offer that allows me to start work on xxxx date. I need to start working promptly. Can you speed up the background check?"

With a 4-6 week background check process, Company A has surely heard this sort of thing before and won't be surprised.


Go to Juridisch Loket, they have free consultations every week. There you can get advice from a legal professional.

  • This should be the accepted answer. – onnoweb Jul 17 '19 at 19:12

It really depends on what the document says, but if it's not an employment contract, why are they having you sign? And what for? To me, it sounds more like a deceleration of intent. Moreover, unless Dutch labour laws changed dramatically since I emigrated some 20 years ago, you have a two month probation period in which both the employer and you can terminate the employment without much trouble. ...unless, of course, you work as a consultant (ZZP-er), in which case most labour laws don't apply. And the fact that you're not an EU national is a complicating factor. Long story short: a Dutch lawyer is better qualified to answer your question.


Generally an offer is exactly that - an offer of employment subject to completing various other steps, until those steps are complete there would not be a binding agreement in place.


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