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I have been offered a 2-year postdoc position in a good Dutch university. What they sent me so far is an email stating that they would like to offer me the position, and whether I would like to take up this position. I then replied with a yes instantly. Does this exchange of emails constitute a formal appointment decision (and acceptance)? I heard from others that it will take some time for them to formulate an employment contract. So what I shall do in the meantime is to wait and not to push them?

Also the PT's preferred start date is 1st February. What does 'start date' mean exactly? Is this the date that I will start getting paid? the date that I actually start working? If this is the case, does a starting date of 1st Feb imply that I should arrive earlier, say, in January to look for accommodation and sort everything out before 1st Feb?

Thanks in advance!

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Having done a post-doc in The Netherlands, I think I can answer your questions.

  1. Your "yes" is an acceptance, though probably not legally binding. They will take it in good faith that you have accepted. The contract may arrive in the mail for you to sign, but you may just sign on your first day.

  2. The starting date is the date you will start and get paid from. You will probably need to go to The Netherlands earlier to find accommodation, though you could easily start everything on February 1 without causing any problems. They will understand that in your first few weeks you'll need to vanish to register yourself with the city, to get bank accounts, etc etc.

I would ask them if the have an accommodation service, even if it only provides short term accommodation. Finding accommodation in The Netherlands can be difficult. In fact, I would simply ask them what their expectations are, essentially sending them the questions you've posted above. Unless it is the first time they've hired a post-doc, these questions will be unsurprising and they should have answers for them. The Dutch are good at dealing with direct questions (and you'll need to get used to receiving them ;-) ).

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    This answer is correct. It might be good to add that most conditions are arranged in a collective labour agreement. An English version can be found here: vsnu.nl/cla-universities-en.html. – Pieter Naaijkens Oct 9 '14 at 17:52
  • Thanks for the answers! It has been a week since I am offered the position via email, but I have not received the contract. Is it normal? The institution has not mentioned anything about contract, but they have requested all my documents so that they can arrange visa for me – phdpublished Oct 11 '14 at 14:48
  • One week is nothing. When in doubt, just ask them. – Dave Clarke Oct 11 '14 at 15:08
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If the email offer is unconditional (for instance, doesn't depend on obtaining a visa or other), then you can consider it as an appointment decision (in the sense that it would be unethical for either side to come back on that decision). However, for some purposes, such as administrative ones, you might need to wait for the actual contract.

The start date usually corresponds to the date where you start working, in many places, you receive your first salary only around the end of the first calendar month (sometimes later, if you start late in the month). In your example, you might receive your salary around the 28th of February.

Whether you come earlier or not depends on you and the institution. They could offer you some temporary accommodation, to give you enough time to find a place on your own. But if you come earlier, you won't be paid for the period of time between the moment you arrive and the start date.

In any case, your new institution should be able to answer all these questions for you, you should be very welcome to contact them (you won't be the first person in that situation, nor the last one!).

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