I currently have a job offer with big company B. The start date in the contract is due for 8 months from now. I'm thinking on accepting the offer, but I'm concerned about what would it happen, if for some reason I was unable to join them in the start date. I understand that it is a serious compromise and I don't want to give the wrong impression of being unloyal or unprofessional. As the waiting time is large, the concern comes from the possibility of having a personal/familiar issue in the mean time that could keep me from keeping the compromise of joining the company.

The job is in the UK and I'm not an european citizen. Of course I understand that if I find myself in that situation I would be closing doors and future opportunities, but, could it have any legal implications, such as being banned from the country (the company would sponsor a working visa) or prosecution of any kind (the company demanding some compensation for their recruiting time spent)?

  • 2
    Questions about legal advice should be directed at a lawyer. – IllusiveBrian Jan 23 '15 at 14:43
  • Can you explain why the offer starts 8 months from now? Are you a student? – ExactaBox Jan 23 '15 at 16:13
  • legal advice is explicitly off-topic per help center – gnat Jan 23 '15 at 16:21
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    It has to match an "corporate training course" thing for new employees, thus the start date – theguywhoasks Jan 23 '15 at 17:02
  • What exactly is "the concern comes from the possibility of having a personal/familiar issue in the mean time"? Having to retake exams? Family? Medical? Legal? Military service? Bereavement? Marriage? Childbirth? Is it foreseeable or unforeseeable? – smci Dec 1 '16 at 18:16

Actual legal advice can only come from a lawyer (and thus these questions are off-topic here).

However, in general a contract is binding for both sides. So if you sign a contract now, then later refuse to start work, you are breaking the contract.

In most jurisdictions, the other side can sue you for damages, or even initiate criminal proceedings for fraud (if they can prove that you never intended to honor the contract). Whether such accusations are actually possible in your case, whether the company wants to pursue them, and whether they are likely to win in court is another story altogether. But these are the risks you may incur.

Outside the legal area, the company could blacklist you, or tell others about it. Again, impossible to tell whether they'll actually do it, or are even allowed to.

More detailed advice can only come from an expert in the applicable regulations, such as a lawyer.


The pragmatic answer would be to bring your concerns to the hiring manager/HR person you're working with. Especially if the company you're dealing with is a larger one, it's almost certainly something they've dealt with before and worked out procedures and policies to handle the issue; but even smaller ones should have done so before starting a hiring process with an extremely long lead time. Even if they haven't; any company that's not dysfunctional to the extent that you wouldn't want to work for them should recognize that it's something they should figure out before it becomes a problem.

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