I hoped to never be in a situation where I would have to ask a question on here, but here I am!

I work for a UK-based IT consultancy that trains new employees, then places them with other companies as a consultants. I am a 23 year old permanent employee of this consultancy, and have been for around 18 months.

The company requires that for the first two 'training' years, a consultant must be geo-flexible - the company can send its consultants anywhere in the UK. They also hold a clause that states I must work for the company for a minimum of 2 years, otherwise I will incur a £20,000 fine. This clause is invalidated should I have a grievance with the company.

The issue I have is that my contract at a company came to an end rather abruptly (about 3 weeks notice). Due to the possibility of other placements being available in the city I was currently living in, I wasn't told that I was definitely moving back to the office until two weeks after this, and one week before I finished work.

That left me with one working week, and an extra week that I had asked for after that to move nearly 200 miles back to the office. This short notice period meant that my housing contract had to tick over to the next month due to required notice periods. After 1 week back at the office I was told that I was moving again, another 200 miles away. I was given a week to find accommodation and start work. The company provided no assistance with this, and only through good prior financial planning did I have the available funds to pay for this new accommodation.

All in all, nearly £3000 has come out of my bank account this month, and as it stands, £2000 of that is a direct result this relocation process. My company outright refuse to provide any extra financial assistance (they already pay 2 weeks rent to all consultants that relocate to over 2 hours away from the office - this must be back claimed as an expense which takes at least a month to be paid), even though they recognise that most people my age would have needed a loan to cover that amount of money.

Everyone I have spoken to so far has decried that this is extremely unfair and that I should leave ASAP. I am pretty much of the same opinion, but I'm unsure of what my options are, both with regards to reclaiming some of the lost funds, and dealing with my company.

Should I seek legal advice? Surely I have SOME rights as a permenant employee? Should I submit a grievance against the company? What would WSE do?

Happy to edit if I've left out any important info

  • 6
    "They also hold a clause that states I must work for the company for a minimum of 2 years, otherwise I will incur a £20,000 fine." That should be a deal breaker for everyone. Never agree to a contract that contains fines for quitting.
    – user29390
    Aug 25, 2017 at 10:18
  • 6
    This company sounds exteremely shady! We can't really help with legal questions here though I'm afraid. Seek legal help ASAP, either from a solicitor specialising in employment law or at the very least the Citizen's Advice Bureau. Hope it gets sorted!
    – motosubatsu
    Aug 25, 2017 at 10:20

2 Answers 2


In the UK, the people to talk to are your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

It's free, and they can offer you help, advice & guidance on your situation and how to deal with it.

Separately, this is why you should always refuse to sign a contract with a penalty exit clause.

If they give you a signing bonus, and reserve the right to reclaim it if you leave in a short period of time (say 3-6 months), that's not unreasonable or unheard of, but "fines" for quitting are always a gigantic red warning sign that you should steer clear of a company.

  • For expensive education/training, it's not uncommon in the US to be required to commit to a certain length of stay or be required to pay back the cost of the education./training. I've seen this most often with company funded college/university programs. This doesn't seem unreasonable that a company gets back a benefit form that expense. Calling it a fine may be unfortunate wording, but the policy doesn't seem unrealistic depending on their cost. If I spent $20,000 on an employee's training and they left a short time later, i'd be upset at the wasted money.
    – cdkMoose
    Aug 25, 2017 at 13:11

A friend of mine recently took part in a similar programme wherein you effectively sign away your soul for two years. If you leave early, they had to pay back the enormous training costs. He too had to relocate at extremely short notice.

Your contract likely includes a part on you being 'geographically flexible', and if a job is available anywhere in your country, you would be expected to go there. Even then, the stress and financial burden of moving around unexpectedly so much may entitle you to some help or compensation. Even if the company is acting within the boundaries stated in the contract, you still have some rights as a person.

Seek help from the Citizen's Advice Bureau, or arrange a consultation with a lawyer and find out if there are some working condition regulations that your company is ignoring. Have your contract on hand though.

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