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4. I accepted a new job offer from a company with the understanding that I would begin work on a certain date. I gave one month notice to my current employer to terminate my employment contract. One week before I was to begin my new job, I received an email from the new company stating that they were holding off on any new recruitment as they were bringing new investors in. Since I had already given notice to my current employer (and new person hired and trained), I was left without employment. Is there any recourse to take against the company that offered me the new job?

To begin with, the answer provided herein is based on the following assumptions:


  1. you signed a valid employment contract with the new company;
  2. that company had made it clearly and unequivocally that they did not want your service despite signing the valid contract; and
  3. there is no probation period

Insofar as (ii) is concerned, you should have asked the company for a formal letter to clarify its position instead of just reading an e-mail.


The starting point for you is to peruse the contract with the company. There may be an express clause that governs the right and obligation of both parties under the present situation. In the absence of such a get-out clause, which is often the case, you may treat the requirements (e.g. the length of notice, or the amount of wages in lieu of notice) in the same way as a continuous contract of employment.


If there is a probation period, the answer will depend on the exact content of the contractual provision. Some contracts may provide that during the first month of employment, the employer has the right to terminate you without the need to give a reason or a notice period. In that case, even if you report for duty, the company will terminate your employment right away.   


If you have already accepted the new job offer verbally and a binding contract is formed, the answers in all the paragraphs above will apply even though you have not signed a written employment contract. The question whether a binding contract has been formed orally depends on whether the detailed terms and conditions of the employment have been discussed and orally agreed upon between the parties.


If you have already accepted the new job offer by email, the answer will be the same unless the offer contains a clause that acceptance by email is not allowed.   


There are many possible scenarios and we cannot give an exhaustive answer here. For details, please refer to the section on termination of employment and the relevant payments. You are also recommended to seek legal advice before commencing legal action.