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I have agreed a new job offer in principal based on the following high level terms. I have also resigned from my current position in good faith.

  • Offer of base salary (in offer letter)
  • Offer of share options (in offer letter)
  • Recruiter on phone said shares vest over 3 years

My contract has arrived and there is no mention of share options and the contract also stipulates that any previous documents including offer letter are not valid upon signing of the contract.

I emailed my potential employer about these concerns and they seem to be fobbing me off, telling me that the offer letter is binding and that they are in the process of raising new money. Because of the new funding round they have changed their Articles of Association and Shareholder Agreements for some institutional investors. They say they can then post round, issue the new EMI options for the team. Employer also said the shares vest over 4 years among a few other confusing details.

How big a deal is this and would it raise a red flag for you? Obviously I need to request all of this be put into the employment contract. If they push back on this, then it is my attitude that the company has made me an offer they are not in a position to be able to formalise. If that is the case, I will withdraw my acceptance of the offer in principle.

There are also a few other things that I do not like and I am wondering how much I can/should push back on. For example, in the first two years they need only give me 4 weeks notice if they want to let me go (+1 week for subsequent years). My notice period, shall I want to leave is static at 3 months. I don't like this, it should be equal on both sides.

What should I do? Would this type of treatment be a red flag for you? Would you continue to want to join? I am getting concerned now and my gut is starting to feel like it's telling me something.

Thanks

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    I'm not sure about UK practice, but in the US it's a really bad idea to leave your current job without a signed contract and start date set. – colbin8r Aug 15 '17 at 17:01
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    @colbin8r same in UK – user29055 Aug 15 '17 at 17:16
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    @colbin8r He had an offer letter, that's normally enough basis to resign in the UK. He's now received the contract and it's terms are different from the offer letter - that's the issue. – toadflakz Aug 16 '17 at 9:34
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    In any legal setting I know, the contract would trump the offer letter on the "being binding" part. Legally. But I am not a lawyer or anything close. If they are unwilling to put it in the contract, I would think they are unwilling to follow up on it. Large red flag. – skymningen Aug 16 '17 at 9:57
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    @Moo sure, that's why I didnt say anything about it being legal or not. it's just a bad idea because of this exact situation – user29055 Aug 17 '17 at 5:47
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How big a deal is this and would it raise a red flag for you?

Signed contracts are binding - that should be the principle at work here, regardless of what they say verbally.

There are also a few other things that I do not like and I am wondering how much I can/should push back on. For example, in the first two years they need only give me 4 weeks notice if they want to let me go (+1 week for subsequent years). My notice period, shall I want to leave is static at 3 months. I don't like this, it should be equal on both sides.

This is not too unusual especially if you are a specialist and sole person working in a critical area of the startup.

What should I do? Would this type of treatment be a red flag for you? Would you continue to want to join?

The first and last of these questions are off-topic (advice), however the second is not.

The notice period item is not a red flag (as I said it's typical). The messing around with the contract, however, is. Be very, very careful and refuse to sign anything that isn't exactly as the offer letter stated otherwise you've agreed to those other terms.

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