I was recruited last month by an agency. The job was not working out. I handed in my notice to the employer. It was an amicable parting. Now the recruiter is angry and is demanding compensation. I was earning €50 per hour. It was 40 hours of work per week. He now only wants to pay me €40 per hour. Is this standard? There is nothing written about this in the contract.

Edit: This persons job title is a 'recruitment consultant' and he works for a large, well known recruiting agency. He did put me in touch with the company who then hired me. I have not yet been paid. The contract states that the company pays him and he then pays me.

Edit 2: This is is Germany.

  • 5
    Bill the recruiter for wasting your time, and disrupting your job search, by recruiting you for such an unsuitable job :-) Otherwise, go by laws and the contract. Commented Mar 5, 2016 at 15:53
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    Your saying "He now only wants to pay me €40ph" implies to me that the 'recruiter' was a contractor and not a recruiter. Who paid you - the employer or the 'recruiter'? Did the 'recruiter' put you in touch with the company who then hired you, or did the 'recruiter' hire you and then contract you out to the 'employer'? Also, have you already been paid for the work you have done? And was there anything in the contract you signed covering this situation? Commented Mar 5, 2016 at 16:41
  • Please edit the question to include the above information. Commented Mar 5, 2016 at 16:46
  • Thank you for your response - This persons job title is a 'recruitment consultant' and he works for a large, well known recruiting agency. He did put me in touch with the company who then hired me. I have not yet been paid. The contract states that the company pays him and he then pays me. Commented Mar 5, 2016 at 16:54
  • 1
    You're in Ireland, so Citizen's Advice might help, but ultimately you only have a few choices. You can argue, and cc people up the line if your contact resists. And write letters, keeping copies for yourself. Then small claims court for the €400 plus your time in trying to recover what you're owed. But if you have to get a solicitor involved the costs of recovery will likely exceed €400, something that I imagine the agent has figured out too.
    – ctokelly
    Commented Mar 6, 2016 at 8:26

4 Answers 4


Only what is agreed on ahead of time by both you and the other party is owed. Unless there is some local law that specifically says you owe the recruiter damages (unlikely). I know of no legal mechanism whereby someone can demand money just because he is angry; this is not justified.

Before you proceed, read the contract carefully to confirm that it does not mention liquidated damages for early termination.

There are two things wrong with his demand:

  1. It is unilateral, you never agreed to this.
  2. It is after the fact, he is making these demands after the contract was signed.
  • 8
    I'd just say to the recruiter: "Please point me to the specific part of our contract where it says I owe you this money." Either he can't and will bluster, whereupon the OP can just say "Well, then I don't owe you the money," or he can, and the OP (having double-checked that it really says that) should have read more carefully before signing. :-) Commented Mar 5, 2016 at 18:47

What will have happened is that the agent will have a clause where the employer can recoup fees paid if the hire leaves within a certain timeframe, so they are trying to ensure they don't lose out by penalising you.

Is this allowed? I'm not a lawyer (even in those dreams where I wake up at 3am sweating), so I can't say. Does it happen? Probably more than you think.


The purpose of the contract was to spell out these terms. He can follow it, or you can an email a superior of his for relief. Are attorneys fees automatically given the winner in your country?

Behind the scenes, I imagine this recruiter is incentivized to keep the money coming in, and you just hurt his numbers. So he's personally feeling the heat. You might want to email him and acknowledge (not apologize) that this is unfortunate for him. It's also not your problem, and you need pay or a bad situation is going to get much worse for him. An email to his superiors will hurt more than whatever damage you did to his numbers. Be overly kind--because you can forward that email to his boss explaining the difficult situation, and the damage will keep multiplying.

Maybe he should consider a job change. First he makes a bad placement, then he attempts to renegotiate a contract while likely violating the payroll laws in your country. This should be a lesson to everyone who puts this kind of pressure on their sales team--they'll embarrass your company and destroy your reputation making those numbers you made up one day.


To the question "What compensation should the recruiter get when I terminate my contract", the answer is none whatsoever.

His or her job is to find companies wanting to employ contractors, find people who want to work as contractors, put them together, and if that works and the company stays together with the contractor for a long enough time, then he or she gets paid. Since he didn't deliver what he was supposed to deliver (an employee who starts and stays long enough), he didn't get and didn't deserve any money.

What he is doing is like you going to a car dealer, looking at all the cars, deciding that you don't want to buy one, and then the car dealer tries to charge you for his loss if income because you didn't buy one of his cars. It's ridiculous.

If he refuses to pay you, first you need to check your contract with him. Hopefully it doesn't mention any reduced payment if you leave. Whether it does or not, I'd send a registered letter demanding payment within 14 days or otherwise you will have to take appropriate legal steps, and I'd send a copy of the letter to the people you were working for. I bet they paid full price for your work, and they won't be happy to hear something like this.

Saying that you are in Germany, this makes it most likely that he would have to pay all your cost if you take it to court and win.

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