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Can you withdraw a job offer?

There may be some reasons that employers will need to withdraw job offers, this may be due to a change of management or may be due to funding for a certain role being withdrawn. Or, the employer may realise that the candidate isn’t suitable for the role. But what are the risks of withdrawing an unconditional job offer?

You may think that the employer can withdraw the offer, but they risk the employee taking a claim to tribunal for breach of contract. Not only that, but withdrawing job offers can affect the reputation of the business.

When exactly is the contract of employment formed? Once the unconditional job offer is made and accepted, this is when the employment contract is formed. An employer risks being liable for damages for the candidate’s loss, if they withdraw an unconditional job offer once it’s been accepted.

You may think that just because the candidate hasn’t started, you can withdraw the offer immediately. However, the employer still needs to provide the candidate with a notice period.

If the employer withdraws the job offer due to recruitment plans changing because of the business’s needs, they will need to notify the selected candidate(s) as soon as they can, which may mean that the selected candidate may not have resigned from their current role yet. If this is the case, the employer should explain their reasons for withdrawing the offer and apologise.

The safer route.

By offering a conditional offer, it means the candidate has to satisfy certain conditions such as providing references or proof of qualifications. This means the employer has the right to withdraw the job offer without being liable for damages, if the candidate doesn’t satisfy one or more of those requirements.

It’s important for employer to make it clear at the point of offering, that is a conditional offer, if not and the candidate doesn’t meet the requirement(s), the employer could then be in breach of contract and liable for any damages.

The safest option is to ensure that when offering employment it is made clear to the selected candidate that it is a conditional offer, and let them know the requirements that need to be met. If the employer doesn’t do this, it could end up a costly mistake!

For more support and advice on job offers, contact us on 01909 512 120 or email phillipa@loftusstowe.com

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Femi Ogunshakin Managing Director
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