If I sign a contract, can I just change my mind?

If I sign a contract to start at a company in January, can I just change my mind and not go? Are there any legal risks of doing so?

Don’t know about legally, but I have a friend who did this a couple of times while looking for jobs and didn’t face any repercussions.

Obviously it’s not a great thing to do, but if you apologize and say you can’t work there any more, maybe with a BS excuse about family in the Taiwanese style, I’m not sure many employers would find it worthwhile to pursue the breach of contract.


Legally, it depends on how the contract is worded. You automatically have some escape clauses (by law), but they’re mostly for after the employer does something wrong, not before.

Practically, Andrew is right: the smaller the breach penalty, the less likely anyone is to pursue it (the winning side only gets the court fee refunded, not the lawyer’s fee), and a large breach penalty may be reduced to a small one by the court anyway.

If you’re interested in the details, search for previous discussions about contract termination.