I am in the European Union. A close sibling is in intensive care due to covid. It just happened today. Given this and some other minor health issues of mine, I am neither in the physical nor psychological situation to start a job I accepted. I will work in a different country of the EU. If things go bad with my sibling, with all these covid-test rules at the airports... well, you understand, right?

I guess they have to replace someone quickly. The start date was proposed by the HR (probably because they need someone quickly).

I am not actually quitting since I have never signed the contract and completed some required bureaucracy (officially, I am cannot even be hired given the present state of things!). I don’t know if there has been a miscommunication between the HR and the technical staff or if they just need me so bad and closing an eye. Still, they are sending me tons of emails as if I am an employee while I am not. So, when I say "quitting", keep this into consideration: I am not their employee (And even if I were, notice period is zero days).

In my opinion, either we delay by a month (for their policy I need to start at the beginning of the month), or I take back my availability at all, if May is late for them.

How should I communicate this in a way that does not sound unprofessional?

I don't mind telling them anything! I just don’t want to seem unprofessional (even if the conditions seems appropriate to me not to start now).

  • 2
    Edited title so this doesn’t pull duplicate votes. You’re not quitting; you are delaying your start date.
    – mxyzplk
    Apr 3, 2021 at 14:11

3 Answers 3


Be honest with them. Tell them that your sibling is in intensive care, and tell them that since they need you to start on the first of a month, you need the start date to be changed to May 1.

A reasonable employer will understand. If they don't then frankly they sound like they'd be a nightmare to work for, but I wouldn't expect that outcome.

Since you're apparently willing to walk away if needed, and you've got a real, appropriate reason for changing the date, then you've got nothing to lose by having an open conversation with them about it.

I'd expect to find that they understand, and they're willing to change the date.


I had a somewhat similar situation happen to me in 2014. I had recently started a contract for hire position, so a little bit different, but basically the same. I called the recruiting agency (actual employer during contract term) and spoke to the company I was working with in person, telling them what had happened. I was respectful and blunt, I was leaving the state for at least six weeks, and was going to be on a plane in a few hours.

They couldn’t accommodate me, so we parted ways with (I hope) no hard feelings on either side.

You haven’t actually started, and there’s COVID, but I would suggest taking the same approach: call your hiring manager (the person you would be working under), and explain that your sibling is in intensive care, and you can’t start before X and then let them decide how to proceed. Just make it clear this isn’t a negotiation, you aren’t starting before X date.


"Culpa in contrahendo." - Fault in conclusion of a contract.

The new employer has best reason to believe that you are willing to enter an employment contract with them. Thus acting in good believe (emails, etc..) to have you on-board asap.

This will not change (and you could be held liable for costs created as of "Culpa in contrahendo") if you are not communicating your current situation, intents and will clearly.

I would recommend you to ask to delay the process (or ask for receiving help/support) so you can handle the covid case in your family.

I wish you good luck and health.

  • Sascha, even if they do not accept a delay, we can mutually terminate the contract without notice. I do not think it applies.
    – NearIR
    Apr 3, 2021 at 17:31
  • @NearIR If you and your current employer agree to end the contract to a certain date (to fit the date of a new employment), that is perfectly fine. This is called dissolving a contract, an act of will of both contract parties and needs no notice period.
    – Sascha
    Apr 3, 2021 at 17:52
  • Sascha it is a one-year probation
    – NearIR
    Apr 3, 2021 at 17:55
  • 1) I communicated about covid (not intensive care but that I was on quarantine) before the start date and 2) I didn’t sign the contract after the start date and, due to quarantine, I could not complete some required bureaucracy (without that I cannot start BY LAW, for security reasons). In these conditions, has the new employer the best reason to think that I will be on board ASAP?
    – NearIR
    Apr 3, 2021 at 18:09

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