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I recently applied to a company that is in a similar business space as the place I currently work. The company said that they would need my current employer to sign a release as a contingency upon accepting my offer. My employer would then have the option to be nice and sign the release, or simply say 'no' and possibly terminate me as a result of accepting another offer. My employer did not have me sign a non-compete agreement, so I do no understand why they would need a release.

Is this a standard business practice for companies in order to avoid potential legal complications?

Should I be concerned about the possibility of my employer not signing the release?

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    It's only standard practice if you work in India or if your employers are part of a illegal cartel. – nvoigt Aug 10 '17 at 5:44
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    If you're in India, related - What is a relieving letter? What are the consequences of not having one? – Dukeling Aug 10 '17 at 5:59
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    What is this "release"? I've heard of job offers contingent on a positive reference from the current employer but this sounds more like "we're okay with this guy still working in the same building". Which is not something a business should have any reason to ask unless you're leaving out the fact that these two companies work have some kind of relationship. And what country is this taking place in? – Lilienthal Aug 10 '17 at 8:36
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    In the US, I have never heard of this type of request, and its a stupid one to be frank as it puts you in a terrible position. If its normal in your country ( like those mentioned in comments ) you don't really have a choice. Otherwise I would pass on this opportunity and not put myself at risk like this. – Mister Positive Aug 10 '17 at 11:07
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    Also, add a location tag so you can get proper answers. – Mister Positive Aug 10 '17 at 11:08
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At best, this is poorly-thought-out effort by the new company to avoid legal complications with your current one.

You absolutely should be concerned about what happens if your current company doesn't sign. Without some form of consideration, they would see no benefit in signing whatever sort of release the new one wants. Even if they don't let you go after not signing it, you will have done severe damage to your relationship and things will not be the same afterward.

Employers take a certain amount of risk in hiring a new employee. It can be mitigated (but not eliminated) by screening out candidates who don't seem like they'd be able to keep their old companies' secrets and by requiring that the employee agree they won't bring in anything they shouldn't.

As you point out in the question, the new company's request puts you in a situation where you could be left without a job and they're doing it in a way that offloads 100% of the risk onto you. That alone should be reason enough to decline the offer. If you need more convincing, consider what this says about how they might treat you as an employee.

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