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Home | Got a Minute | Health and safety | No. 131 – Can I lock in my new job before I do the mandatory health assessment?

No. 131 – Can I lock in my new job before I do the mandatory health assessment?

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1 November 2023

Each week, Dr Kirstin Ferguson tackles questions on the workplace, career and leadership in her advice column “Got a Minute?” This week: a confusing recruitment timeline, an unexpected notice period and a painful break-up.

I was verbally offered a new role, including a start date, and told a contract would be provided promptly. So, I immediately resigned from my current job. My new employer has now asked me to attend a health assessment (that I’m confident I will pass) and said an employment contract will be available after the assessment is done. Given I’ve already resigned, it’s hard to take time off for this assessment. I now feel a lack of trust from the new company. Should I trust the process or start looking elsewhere?

I can feel your anxiety and while I suspect (or certainly hope) everything will work out, it is a great reminder for all of us to make sure all the boxes are ticked before leaving something old for the promise of something new. It sounds like when you were verbally offered the role, there were many questions I am sure you now wish you had asked. Your prospective employer could have also done a better job of explaining their recruitment process.

I would talk openly with your prospective employer about your predicament. Explain the health assessment was not mentioned before you resigned to meet their start date, and you will be unable to take time off work for it. Ask if there is a way you could do the assessment out of hours, or if they will issue a contract of employment subject to successful health assessment results. I am confident you will be able to find a way through by being honest about the situation you have temporarily found yourself in.

I am part of the senior management team at a large listed firm. Recently, the business announced that a review was in progress to align the firm’s standard employment contract with new legislative and statutory requirements, and that all existing employees would be asked to sign a new – and updated – employment contract. When I received my new contract, it also included an increased notice period for resignation – up from four weeks to three months. I feel this could make it hard to secure future employment, as it is unusual at my level in this industry. My annual salary increment is tied into the new contract so if I don’t sign it I may miss out. What should I do?

You are right to be concerned a three-month notice period could be a problem in the future although, hopefully, when you come to resign and when things have stabilised with your current employer, you will be able to negotiate an earlier exit when it comes time to hand in your notice. Ultimately, it comes down to what is more important to you now: reducing the notice period or receiving your salary increment.

Sarah Queenan, founder and managing director of Humanify HR Consulting, suggests that, while it is quite common for senior management and executive contracts to include a three-month notice period, any future employer will generally be understanding (and happy to wait) if they are serious about bringing your talent into their organisation. She also makes the point that if they are not prepared to wait, you probably need to ask whether this is the right new employer for you, as it may be a signal that they could be potentially unreasonable about other things too.

My wife started a new job and had to learn a new program which, to me, seemed very cult-like. She was provided access to a free coaching session each fortnight and, over 12 months, she changed. She then left me and I fell into a deep depression. Should her employer accept responsibility for having a coaching program that affected our relationship?

I am sorry for your personal circumstances, which sound like they have been tough for you. That said, your wife is free to do as she chooses – regardless of whatever you perceive might be the influence of her workplace. As you will have seen, I have edited your letter significantly, since you made other suggestions about your wife and her employer, which also doesn’t have a bearing on their responsibility. I wish you all the very best and if you continue to experience depression or distress, please be sure to call Lifeline on 13 11 14 for support.

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