Starting work – Contract of Employment (Breach of contract)

6.3.0.L1 Updated on:13 October 2021

Start date of Contract of Employment

A Contract of Employment is an agreement you make with an employer when you start working for them. It begins either from the start date stated on it or from the date the person starts to work.

If the employment has already started, the terms of a new Contract of Employment take effect from the date both the employer and employee agree them. A change in terms should be given by the employer in writing to you within 4 weeks of the change.

You decide not to take up the job

Regardless of whether you have signed a Contract of Employment, if you decide not to take up the job you cannot be forced to do so. You may however have entered into a contract in writing, verbally, or by your actions and there may have been a clause in the contract covering compensation or notice periods.  You should tell the employer as soon as possible, but it is up to the employer to decide whether there may be grounds for civil action for Breach of Contract.

An employer decides not to take you on

An employer does not have to take on an employee they have offered a job to even though the potential employee may have signed a Contract of Employment. This is especially so if the offer of employment was made conditionally upon meeting certain recruitment criteria.

When you have lost money because of the employer’s change of mind, it may be worth seeking compensation, although there is no statutory law that allows for the employee to be compensated. If you have been given a Contract and start date, you may have good enough reasons to take civil action against the employer for breaking their contract with you, especially if you have suffered a financial loss. This is known as ‘Breach of Contract’ and you should seek legal advice.