I am an Executive Search and Selection consultant and a CIPD affiliate but am occasionally asked HR related questions that I am simply not qualified to provide professional guidance on, so always welcome input from the wider HR community on such matters.

I recently spoke with a contact of mine who has just been appointed to a new position as a GM across a multi-territory European region within a large global business, an appointment that at face value exactly matched the Group’s strategy and Investor statements. The position is based in the UK offices but will require at least 50% travel.

Perhaps unusually for today’s climate the appointment seemingly moved at pace such that my contact accepted the offer via email and was invited to have his first day at the Annual Conference very soon after. As such other than the emailed acceptance of the offer he has not returned a signed contract by post. A little alarmingly at the conference, on his third day he was approached by a somewhat sheepish SVP HR, simply saying that they would be in touch this week about his contract. When my contact asked should he be concerned the SVP HR gave no indication either way. Later that day he had the chance to speak with the CEO of the region who again didn’t wish to be drawn on the matter either way and also gave him no guidance as to what he should do whilst waiting to hear from them this week.

Of course this could amount to nothing other than a cultural misunderstanding (neither of the Company Executives are British) and a lack of communication but naturally my contact feels concerned. Whilst he had left his last role already he was advanced with other processes and indeed rejected another offer in order to accept and start with this organisation, as the opportunity was an exceptional one that matched his ambitions. He has a UK employment contract.

Based on these very sketchy second-hand facts, what thoughts / actions should my contact be considering? If they were to tell him that they had changed their minds about his appointment what recourse could he have (they are a US company)? Similarly if they wished to change some of the terms of the contract which he wasn’t comfortable with? Are they able to terminate his contract via his two week probationary period – even though his performance cannot be considered inappropriate or unsatisfactory? What if they were to argue the role has become redundant?

Any thoughts greatly appreciated by myself and my contact. Thank you.

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