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I'm from Latin America and signed a contract with a German company in February. Since then, the company has been handling my relocation to Germany.

I'm still waiting for the pre-approval of my work from the Federal Agency of Employment; This is because I don't qualify for the Blue Card. The problem is that my start date has moved twice because my visa takes forever to process. The relocation agency in charge of this is very unresponsive, including the employer.

In the meantime, the company I'm working for offered me to relocate to Spain, and I'm pretty advanced in the process. Right now, I just have to go to the local Spain embassy and apply for the visa.

This got me thinking. The first alternative was always to go to Germany. Still, due to the uncertainty and unresponsiveness from both the employer and relocation agency, I rather play safe and stay with my actual company.

This is why I want to terminate the contract with the German company before the start date (well, I don't have an official start date now). The contract doesn't say anything about not being able to quit before the start date. I have the usual probation period of 6 months, but there is a clause that says I need to repay the amount of €3500 for the cost of relocation if I quit before 12 months of commencing work.

The repayment obligation is reduced by 1/12 of the relocation costs for each full month of continued employment after the start of work. The repayment claim may be offset against remuneration claims arising from the employment relationship, subject to the garnishment exemption limits.

Keeping in mind that I'm not in Germany right now, what can the company do in my case? I don't have a problem paying them the cost of relocation. I would instead prefer not to and finish this with mutual agreement.

Thanks in advance.

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    Just write the company and say you‘ve decided not to continue with them and are formally quitting effective immediately. No-one here can give you a definitive answer as none of us are employment lawyers (well some of us may be). However since you haven‘t even started working yet, nor have you moved, there is unlikely any negative consequences. Just read your contract, it‘ll be spelled out there fairly well i‘m sure. Commented Jul 3, 2022 at 15:10
  • When you want to terminate your employment contract before you even started you have to give notice in the same way and length as if you were already working for that company. Details about how long that notice period will be should be in your contract. But, it is not uncommon in German employment contracts to exclude the option to terminate the contract before the official start date (I had that in multiple contracts during my career). Therefore you have to read your contract in detail. Commented Jul 5, 2022 at 19:28
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    I'll verify with a specialized lawyer, the clause of €3,500 sounds abusive to me. Not sure if clauses like this are even legal. It could also be that the whole thing is a scam. They might just be waiting for you to cancel to try to get money back Commented Jul 7, 2022 at 1:17
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    @QuoraFeans it‘s stipulated that the OP only pays it back if they bail before an agreed upon term, it‘s mostly to prevent people using the company for a free trip to Europe, and fairly normal in my experience. No one company in Germany would be able to successfully force someone to pay travel fees back for a trip that was never taken. Commented Jul 7, 2022 at 8:24

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Remember that both Spain and Germany are within the EU, so if you are taken to court in Germany then they can easily make you pay in Spain.

And I can tell you that German companies are quite peculiar about how business is supposed to be done. Contact them as soon as possible and come to an agreement. Where companies elsewhere would consider the cost of suing you vs. the amount they can recover, German companies will just not accept what they see as breaking an honourable agreement.

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    Good answer but I might consider replacing "peculiar" with "particular". The former sounds a bit judgemental.
    – simonc
    Commented Jul 5, 2022 at 10:01
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    I didn't consider that, and you have a good point there. Thanks for your advice.
    – strider
    Commented Jul 5, 2022 at 13:27

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