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During the past month I (Non-EU) have been preparing for my new software development job starting in four weeks. The job consists of relocation to a country in Europe which is a total of 2 hours by flight from my hometown.

However, few days ago I received the news that one of my parents was diagnosed with serious illness. This completely caught me off-guard. I did plan for situations like these, but I always thought I would already be settled somewhere when that would happen and it would be easy to just take free days or work remotely in order to take care of family errands. While I'm waiting for more detailed results regarding the stage of the illness, I outlined the following options that I could take:

  • Cancel the new job and stay in my hometown to help my family. I doubt my current company will take me back after I gave my leaving notice, so I could look for another job in order to keep my family's finances healthy (For the record, I have another sibling and another healthy parent + relatives. Both of my parents told me that they are against me staying in my hometown because of the newly risen situation, as it might make them feel worse for me missing the opportunity)
  • Relocate but inform my new employee of the situation. My plan in this case would be to fly back every (or every second) weekend (Friday evening to Sunday evening) back home in order to check the situation
  • Based on the upcoming results and the stage of the illness, try to postpone the starting date of the job (For the record, we signed the contract in mid October)

My impression of the company is that they treat employees well. However, in the first 6 months I'll be on a probation period, so if I have to leave, it would be easy.

I have two questions I need advice on:

  • Which of the three options you would choose if you had to and why
  • How to go about letting my upcoming employee know about the whole situation

I apologize if I asked something which clearly depends on everyone's circumstances. But this community has been hugely helpful in the past and I need every advice I could get while I'm in my current state.

Thank you all.

  • I am answering the second question. The first is off-topic IMHO. We can´t tell you what to do! – Daniel Dec 9 '19 at 19:01
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    Without telling us the illness of your parent, what is the best location where your parent can get medical treatment for that type of illness? It may, or may not, be in your hometown. Sometimes, it can be in a slightly bigger city. Sometimes, it can be the capital of your country. Sometimes, it can be in a different country. – Stephan Branczyk Dec 9 '19 at 19:34
  • Maybe related question on Academia SE academia.stackexchange.com/questions/52386/… – Bernhard Döbler Dec 9 '19 at 21:14
  • What difference will your physical presence have on the progression of your parent's illness? I don't ask to be cruel; your initial feeling to be close to them is valid, but may not be necessary. They may get along just fine for years to come without you living next door. – spuck Dec 9 '19 at 23:29
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Talk to your employer, and see what's possible!

Normally I would advise against soliciting private information to your new employer, but in this case, it should not harm to discuss possibilities with them. As I see it, you can not really lose anything here.

Worst case, they can't do anything to help you. You can still decide if you want to stay and let the opportunity pass or if you can honor the original agreement.

Best case, they support you in being flexible with the startup date or give you some of your holidays in advance (most European countries have quite extensive paid holidays!) etc. Once you know what they will tolerate, it will be much easier to find the solution.

A good employer will appreciate the honesty and your loyalty that you show through caring for your family as well as being honest to them what the problem is.

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How to go about letting my upcoming employee know about the whole situation

Talk to your employer and explain your situation as best as you can. Let them know the the different errands and new responsibilities you expect to have with your family and ask them how they can accommodate for your new situation. Based on their feedback, you can then determine the best course of action for yourself and your family. If this company is good to their employees, they will try to work with you to help you with your situation.

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Which option is no option:

Based on possible outcomes, just staying should not be your first choice, unless for personal reasons. This is because in any case, you need to talk to your new employer first.

  • Either they are sympathetic to your situation, then you can think about working something out.
  • Or they are not, in which case you know for sure. But this is the same outcome as deciding to not relocate in the first place.

On justification:

One thing I will say, from the way you are describing the situation, there are clues that you may have made up your mind and are looking for justification. Clues of this:

  • You say your parents are very much against you staying, despite the situation.
  • You say you have relatives, who are capable of providing.

Personally I don't think justification can be provided here and it should not matter, whether or not people on the internet are okay with the decision you end up making. This is a very personal choice and ultimately you should make it on your own, based on your ethics and the specifics of the entire situation. This does also not imply judgemental overtones, but the answer to your question must be:

"Talk to your new employer, see what options arise, work with that and make a decision."

, it cannot be:

"You should move, your parents would want you to take the opportunity."

, or anything along those lines.

For what it's worth, I have been there. I wish you good fortune.

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If I were you, I'd relocate, start working, visit over weekends as possible.

Life is usually the best when it's balanced - don't forget your past, but don't kill your future before it even started, either.

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