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Offer of Employment

Published June 5, 2023 (last updated on May 14, 2024) | Adam Wyatt - Copywriter and Content Creator

Today’s recruitment market is fast-paced and more competitive than ever. When a business finds the perfect candidate for a vacant position, they often want to formalise an offer as quickly as possible. In many cases, they will use an offer of employment to immediately establish an agreement to hire a new employee. 

An employment offer is a brief way to convey essential information about a role to a candidate, helping them decide whether to formally accept a job offer.  

Crucially, an offer of employment covers the three important legal elements – offer, consideration and acceptance. Once signed by the candidate and returned to the employer, the offer letter becomes contractually binding. 

What information should an offer of employment include? 

An offer of employment letter should include all the information a candidate needs to either accept or decline a job offer. While it will not be as detailed as an employment agreement, it will likely include: 

  • Position title 

  • Agreed salary 

  • Leave entitlements 

  • Other benefits

  • Start date 

  • Full-time or part-time  

  • Expected hours

  • Length of probation period 

  • Any special conditions of employment 

The letter should also specify a deadline for the candidate to respond to the offer of employment. Finally, it is important to note within the offer that once the letter has been signed, the candidate’s status as a new employee is official. 

How is an offer of employment sent? 

It is common for an offer of employment to be sent as an attachment in an email. While you might have a conversation with the candidate to negotiate the terms of a role, an offer of employment agreed to during a telephone call or face-to-face conversation is not legally binding.  

You should always make formal offers of employment in writing and keep a signed copy of the letter in the new employee’s documentation.  

What are the next steps for employers? 

Most importantly, be prepared to answer any questions the candidate might have after the letter has been sent. Because the offer of employment is brief, the candidate may need more details to make an informed decision. If you are slow to respond to any enquiries, this could sway them into declining the offer. 

If the candidate accepts the offer, the next step is to draft an employment agreement. While the offer of employment letter only holds essential information, the employment agreement lays out the terms and conditions of the role in full.

What is the difference between an offer of employment and employment agreement?

While an offer of employment will normally be short and congratulatory in tone, an employment agreement will be formal and carefully worded.

An employment agreement is usually several pages long, containing clauses covering everything from compensation to notice periods. Sometimes the employer agreement will be sent with the offer of employment and candidates are asked to sign both to indicate acceptance of a role.

Can an offer of employment substitute an employment agreement?

An offer of employment should never substitute an employment agreement. Having an employment agreement in place is essential because:

  • It clarifies all the terms and conditions for both the employee and employer

  • It allows either party to refer to the relevant clause in the agreement if any disputes arise

  • It avoids disputes arising in the first place, since both parties are fully aware of their rights and obligations

As well as being a legal requirement, employment agreements are also essential in laying the foundations for the long-term relationship between an employer and employee. 

If the new employee is a member of a union, they will be covered by any relevant collective employment agreements

Can an employer retract an offer of employment? 

An employer can retract an offer of employment if the candidate has not signed and returned the letter. However, if the candidate has formally accepted the offer and the employer chooses to retract it, the business leaves itself open to the possibility of a personal grievance claim. 

Hiring and onboarding a new employee is a complicated process that’s surrounded by complex legislation. For any questions related to employee contracts, contact Employsure’s FREE 24/7 Advice Line on 0800 568 012

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