This week I reported early Monday morning to my new Software Developer job only to find out that some of my background checks have yet to complete and I can not start until everything has gone through. I've combed through my employee contract and signed written offer letter and it directly states my start date and nowhere describes it as being contingent upon successful background checks.

The main problem is that I've had to leave my old job to make myself available on this date and now the recruiting agency is unable to give me a time frame for when the remaining background checks would be complete. I cannot afford to sit around indefinitely without pay and I feel that any background vetting should have been completed before I was given a written contract.

My old job would easily let me come back and work a few more days/weeks but I obviously cannot do that and remain open to start my new job whenever they need me.

Should I tell the new company I can only start in a few weeks after everything goes through or possibly ask for some form of compensation while I wait? I don't want to start off on a bad foot here but I simply cannot afford to lose weeks of work hoping everything works out.

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    Where is this? Also, you might want to consult an attorney ... and keep that job hunt going. – GreenMatt Mar 29 '16 at 21:38
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    They should have let you know sooner. Who lets someone show up for work when they can't officially start? Someone owes you a massive apology and should pay you anway. – user8365 Mar 29 '16 at 22:17
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    I think it isn't unexpected to have backgound checks taking longer than expected. But it is bad that they didn't tell you about it before it was too late. – bilbo_pingouin Mar 30 '16 at 7:36
up vote 7 down vote accepted

I've combed through my employee contract and signed written offer letter and it directly states my start date and nowhere describes it as being contingent upon successful background checks.

The fact that they didn't notify you before you showed up to start to tell you that you couldn't start is not a good sign. Once you start with them, what other important information are they not going to give you until it is really too late?

Should I tell the new company I can only start in a few weeks after everything goes through or possibly ask for some form of compensation while I wait?

I would suggest sitting down with them ASAP. Today or tomorrow. This is what I would say

I'm concerned that I'm not able to start work yet. I am really excited for this opportunity. I left my previous job so that I could start on our agreed upon start date. I was under the impression that everything was okay for me to start Monday morning when I came in only to be told that I can't start because background checks have not been completed. This should have been brought to my attention well in advance of my start date. Now I have no job and no idea when I will be able to start with you. What are you going to do to correct this situation?

I would not tell them that you have the opportunity to go back to the old job. No need to give them this information as a crutch. See what their solution to the problem is. At that point, you can decide

  1. Is their solution acceptable?
  2. Have they regained your trust?

Depending on what they offer and you choose to do, you may want to go back to the old job for a few weeks so as to not have an income gap while they get their act together. If that is the case, make it clear to them that you don't want to be told a start date until everything is good to go. At that point you will need two weeks to make the transition. If you decide you don't want to continue with them, I'd try to go back to the old place for a while while I look for another job.

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    "The fact that they didn't notify you before you showed up to start to tell you that you couldn't start is not a good sign." <- this!!! – mhwombat Mar 31 '16 at 13:40

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