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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 50206
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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My contract expires on 31/03/16. I was asked to start a new

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My contract expires on 31/03/16. I was asked to start a new one for an additional six weeks and agreed. I have not signed anything new, only the old contract which is soon to expire. I have the chance of a permanent job starting elsewhere on 01/04/16 - can I be held in breach of contract?
Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Did the old contract have a notice period for termination?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
No, it was a fixed term contract with an expiry date of "no later than 31/03/16".
Regardless of whether you had signed for the contract extension, a legally binding contract is most likely to be in place anyway. That is because a contract comes into existence if there is an offer and acceptance and if the employer had offered you an extension which you accepted then the new contract would have been created without the need for any formalities in terms of signature or having it confirmed in writing. So if you were to leave earlier than the agreed duration of the extension you may indeed be in breach of contract. Legally, if the employee fails to honour the contract then they will be acting in breach of contract. 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. 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. It is therefore best to try and negotiate a mutually acceptable notice period that would suit both parties. However, if that is not possible and there is a pressing need to leave early, that is still a possibility, subject to the risks identified above. I hope this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating (3, 4 or 5 stars) as that is an important part of our process and recognises the time I have spent assisting you. If you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
This is a school, the person I am covering is due back on 19/04/16 so the loss would be eight days for the cost of a supply teacher. I have to be selfish and think of my mortgage etc as the new school could lead to a permanent job which this school will not. Do you think I would be held culpable by West Sussex County Council?
You may indeed be held culpable but at the same time you have to consider what the likelihood of them actually taking this further is. This is a public employer, finances are limited, there is going to be just 8 days' potential costs involved so would they actually go as far as court for this - I think that is unlikely.