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Question

Having recieved a job offer and signed the associated contract, relocation is taking far longer than expected, and I no longer expect to have anywhere to live in the new city by the time I originally agreed to start the job comes around.

Is it OK to ask for a delay in the start date of my new job for this reason? If so, how long of a delay would be reasonable?

Background

On July 15th 2019, I found out that I had been successful in my application to join one of my dream companies. However, I will need to relocate for this job.

The following day, I handed in my month's notice at my current employer.

When sent the offer of employment by my prospective new employer, I was asked to provide a start date. I provided them with the September 2nd 2019.

Given I was intending to rent a flat, my reasoning was that I would have time to move down with plenty of time to spare in case things went wrong. This was agreed, and I signed my employment contract which stated September 2nd 2019 as the start date.

Unfortunately, I had underestimated the sheer amount of demand for rental properties in the city I will be moving to. I kept on booking viewings, then arranging to take a trip down to the new city to attend those viewings, only for every single one of those viewings to be withdrawn due to the properties being let to someone else, sometimes within less than a day of the property going on the rental market.

Instead, I started looking into buying a house via shared ownership, and I have been successful in doing so. A mortgage application is progress (with an agreement in prinicple already received), and I have a conveyencer currently proceeding with the legal side of things.

I have been given the date of September 6th 2019 as the very latest the exchange of contracts could take place, and have been told the very latest completion could take place is 14 days after the exchange of contracts takes place. Obviously, I hope that things won't take as long as this (It is not in the interest of other parties to cause delays, as the conveyencer is paid a flat fee, and the property is currently empty so the housing provider is not making any money).

This means that in the worst-case, I won't have anywhere to live in the new city until 3 weeks after the originally agreed start date.

Is it OK to contact my new employer and ask for a delay in start date, or would this risk my job offer / contract being withdrawn?

In addition, if asking such a question is OK, what propotion of that 3 week period would be considered acceptable? (I might be able to reduce this by staying in a bed and breakfast near my new employer for a small number of days, but this is NOT cheap in the city in question)

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    It's perfectly fine to ask, especially if they know you are relocating. What they can do to help you will really depend on the nature of the work, and how important your role is in the short term. Are they aware that you're relocating already? – Gregory Currie Aug 13 at 15:27
  • And you know, the sooner you let them know, the better it is. – Gregory Currie Aug 13 at 15:28
  • I concur with Gregory. Additionally you could ask if they are willing to help out with the costs of temporary housing if moving the start date causes them heartburn. – onnoweb Aug 13 at 15:29
  • Would you be able to afford temporary housing in an extended-stay hotel or something similar? When I relocated, my new employer put me up in an extended stay while I looked for housing (granted, in a much less in-demand area). – David K Aug 13 at 15:31
  • Are there motels that rent by the week and do you have transportation? – thursdaysgeek Aug 13 at 17:57
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I would suggest that you talk to your recruiter/ hiring manager, discuss your predicament with them and see what they can do for you.

This could include the shifting of joining date by a couple of weeks, them providing you a temporary accommodation for a few weeks (This is common in my location for new employees who relocate, not sure about UK), or them allowing for some remote or other arrangement on a temporary basis.

Given that you are not entirely sure on the timelines (1 to 3 weeks of delays), I would suggest not moving the joining date a lot and focus on alternate options if possible, as otherwise you stand to lose out on some salary if things move fast.

All of this varies company by company, but since you mention this is a dream company, I will assume they must be having a competent HR department to help a prospective employee with their genuine concerns.

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    Thanks. I took your advice and instead of asking them outright asking them to delay my start date, I have just sent an e-mail discussing my situation, and asking them if they could provide me any advice or help. Hopefully they will then come back to me with options they are willing to support, without me risking asking them something that they are not willing to support and possibly alienating them in the process. – Scott Dennison Aug 14 at 8:49
  • @ScottDennison Happy to help. I would also suggest to call them and explain things as they stand in case you do not hear back in a day's time :) – mu 無 Aug 14 at 8:54

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