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I'm a US citizen living in the Netherlands with an indefinite work contract and work permit. I'm looking for new work, and I want to understand my legal rights once I have either verbally accepted a new position, or signed a new employment contract.

At either stage (verbal agreement or signed contract) am I within my rights to pull out before the start date of the new position?

I understand that verbal agreements are often considered binding in the Netherlands, and I also understand that employment laws are sometimes different for foreign workers.

If it's not within my legal rights, what are the possible consequences of doing so any way?

Note that I'm not asking if this is strictly a "good idea", or whether it's good manners or ethical.

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    Most contracts will have a trial period, which you can use too (write a letter citing the relevant clause, you can legally walk out immediately). If not, the default notice period is one month. The fact that you did not start working does not matter, it's one month from notifying your intent in writing, not one month after the intended start date of your employment. – Gala Aug 16 '16 at 7:26
  • If, however, the one-month notice means you have to show up for a few days/weeks and you don't do that, your employer could in principle sue you for damages (how much they can reasonably claim and how realistic this is, I have no idea). – Gala Aug 16 '16 at 7:29
  • There's also the question whether a company would be bothered. You signed a contract, you didn't turn up - they will probably check what they need to do to be safe legally, and that's it. – gnasher729 Feb 16 '17 at 19:37
  • @Gala: If you'd be willing to turn your comments into an answer, I would be willing to accept it. – Flimzy Jul 28 '17 at 12:06
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Most contracts will have a trial period, which you can use too (write a letter citing the relevant clause, you can legally walk out immediately). If not, the default notice period is one month. The fact that you did not start working does not matter, it's one month from notifying your intent in writing, not one month after the intended start date of your employment.

If, however, the one-month notice means you have to show up for a few days/weeks and you don't do that, your employer could in principle sue you for damages (how much they can reasonably claim and how realistic this is, I have no idea).

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In the case of you having only verbally accepted, and they have not already paid you anything nor made a lot of arrangements on your behalf, to my understanding you are perfectly within your rights - regardless of which country it is - to call and tell them you've reconsidered. Give a reason or make up a reasonable excuse.

Specifically in the Netherlands, when you consider the trial period @Gala mentioned - which is in effect after both parties have signed and after work has already begun - I am absolutely certain you can recant your oral agreement. It's not that an oral agreement is non-binding, it's just that parties can terminate agreements as their conditions change, and the question is under what circumstances, and with what penalties if any.

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    Sorry but just because you feel that someone is in their right doesn't make it a valid answer. The OP is specifically asking about legal status, not about ethics. – Sebastiaan van den Broek Feb 15 '17 at 12:36

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