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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 50161
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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I recently signed a contract to start at a recruitment

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I recently signed a contract to start at a recruitment company on May 6th. A few days ago out of the blue I got an offer from another recruitment company with a higher salary which I accepted. I have told the first employer that I had accepted another offer and unsurprisingly they were not happy. I have 2 questions please
1) Can they hold me to the contract even though I have not started with them ?
2) One of the clauses on the contract was that I did not go and work with one of their competitors and their clients for 6 months after termination. I am doing that, can they use this against me
I hope they will not bother pursuing me but I wanted to check my legal position please if they do
Best wishes
Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.
You should check the contract start date to see from what date it applies but in general the start date would be the date you actually commenced employment with them and as such the contract is unlikely to be legally binding until then. So any of the clauses in it would not have come into existence and become potentially enforceable until the actual start of the contract, which would have been on the first day of employment with them.
Prior to that there would have still been some sort of contract in place, but only a basic one where you had agreed to start working for them under the terms of this written contract. Therefore, if you did not proceed with this and failed to start the job as agreed they could potentially try and claim you were acting in breach of contract. I must admit it is rather rare for employers to pursue that further as it is just not in their best interests – the losses they can pursue are small and the time and fees involved make this something that is simply not worth it. I am yet to deal with an employer who has gone and taken this further, although a small risk always exists as you can appreciate.
They are highly unlikely to be able to enforce the non-compete clause, especially as you never actually started working for them and this is unlikely to be legally enforceable. The worst you can expect is if they try and pursue you for losses incurred in you not going ahead with the job, such as recruitment fees or fees associated with getting a replacement at short notice but as mentioned this is very rarely done.
I hope this has answered your query. Please take a second to leave a positive rating, or if you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
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