It can be upsetting and frustrating, having been offered a new job, to have that job offer withdrawn. In this blog I explore the bases on which an employer might withdraw a job offer and whether employees have any recourse when that happens.
Offers Subject To Conditions
It is common for employers to make job offers subject to conditions. Typically, offer letters will state that the offer is subject to receipt of satisfactory references. Other common conditions are confirmation that the employee has permission to work in the UK or that they hold certain qualifications. Some roles may require receipt of medical information, Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks or credit checks. Any conditions must be made clear to the prospective employee.
Time limits on acceptance may also be specified in the offer letter. If the employer receives no reply from the prospective employee within the time stipulated, the offer will generally be taken to have lapsed. If no time limit is specified, an offer will generally be taken to lapse after a reasonable period of time unless it is clear that the offer is open-ended, in which case it will remain open until it is accepted, rejected or withdrawn. What amounts to a reasonable period of time depends on the circumstances.
Reasons For Withdrawing An Offer
One of the reasons for an employer wanting to withdraw a job offer may therefore be because one or more of the conditions expressed in the offer letter has not been fulfilled, for example, the employer receives an unsatisfactory reference. There may however be other reasons for an employer wishing to withdraw a job offer such as unexpectedly receiving information about the prospective employee which casts doubt on their suitability, or the employer’s business requirements changing.
Withdrawing An Offer Before It Has Been Accepted By The Employee
The employer can withdraw an offer at any time before it has been accepted by the employee, without the employer having to give notice or make a payment in lieu of notice. The withdrawal should be communicated clearly to the employee.
Withdrawing An Offer After It Has Been Accepted By The Employee
Once any conditions to which the offer was made subject have been satisfied and the employee has accepted the offer (or the employee has actually started work even if the conditions have not been satisfied), an employment contract may exist. Where there is a contract in place, the only way for the employer to terminate the contract is to give the employee the notice to which they are entitled under the contract or make a payment in lieu of notice (if there is a contractual right to do so). If the employer fails to do so this, it will be a breach of contract.
Potential Claims By The Employee
Breach Of Contract
If a contract exists and the employer breaches that contract without giving notice or making a payment in lieu of notice, the employee can sue the employer in an employment tribunal or civil court. Compensation is normally calculated according to the length of the notice period and is therefore limited.
Unless the employee has previous relevant continuous service, they will not have sufficient length of service to bring an ordinary unfair dismissal claim. However, there are exceptions. Claims for automatic unfair dismissal can be brought without the need to have two years’ continuous service. If the reason for withdrawing the offer falls within one of the exceptions, employees may be able to claim.
Employers must not terminate the contract for any discriminatory reason, i.e. a reason connected to a protected characteristic being age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation. There is no qualifying service requirement for bringing a discrimination claim. Employees who believe that the job offer was withdrawn for discriminatory reasons may have a claim. From the employer’s perspective, it is therefore important to keep a record of their reasons for withdrawing an offer and any evidence to support the reasons they reached that decision.
Lincs Law Employment Solicitors Can Help You
The above is a general overview. If you would like advice on your own situation please contact us for a free enquiry on 01522 440512 or via the web chat or contact form on our website at www.lincslaw.co.uk.
Specialist Employment Solicitor
Lincs Law Employment Solicitors
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