Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today. Do you still expect to be paid the bonus mentioned?
How would the company be affected if you left early - could they find a replacement quite easily?
The agreement you reached at the start could still be legally binding, even if its terms were not specifically mentioned in the contract you were subsequently issued with. A contract is formed when there is an offer, acceptance and consideration so if they offered you the job on the basis of it being a 24 month minimum contract and you accepted it, a binding contract is likely to have been created on these terms even if it was not included in the formal employment contract.
If you were to breach the agreement and leave earlier, the employer then has the option of suing the employee to seek compensation for damages resulting from their breach. However, in reality such claims are very rarely made. This is mainly due to the costs and time involved, also the relatively small damages that can be recovered. Also the employer has to show that actual losses have been incurred and often that is not easy to do. Also if you are willing to serve your notice period and they find a replacement in the meantime, their losses are likely to have been offset or completely removed. So whilst there is no way of predicting whether the employer will take this any further or not, chances are that they will not. A more likely outcome is that the employer refuses to provide a reference in the future or if they do, it could mention that the employee had breached their contract.
Finally, there are circumstances when an employee may be entitled to leave with immediate effect and without honouring their contract. This occurs when an employer has committed a serious breach of contract first. The whole contract then becomes immediately void and the employee would be treated as being 'constructively dismissed'. So if there are reasons to believe the employer has acted in breach of contract, whether a breach of an express contractual term, or other breaches such as bullying, exposing the employee to unreasonable stress, discriminating against them, etc this reason can be relied on in order to leave earlier than agreed.
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yes it could help but of course it depends on whether any losses would be suffered anyway, so I cannot guarantee that but it is worth trying. In any event the employer has a duty to mitigate the losses so they cannot just sit back and do nothing and incur costs - they must take steps to try and reduce these as much as possible. But they can claim the costs that may be incurred in getting a replacement at short notice - that would be a direct result of your breach. Saying that, you could have a potential case against them for the way you were treated so if you make it clear that you may pursue that if they try and pursue you for the costs, then they may think again.
The probationary issue is not a breach, it just means you have automatically passed it if they did not inform you of this.
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Can I clarify anything else for you or has your query been answered?