All employees have an employment contract with their employer. This contract is an agreement between the two parties that sets out an employee’s working conditions, rights, responsibilities and duties. These are known as terms of the contract.
When someone has accepted an ‘unconditional’ job offer, this creates a legally binding contract of employment between the employer and employee. The difference between this and a ‘conditional’ job offer is that the conditional job offer can be rescinded if the person does not meet the employer’s requirements. This could be due to a number of reasons such as satisfactory references or the results of a DBS or health check.
Job offers and job acceptances do not necessarily have to be in writing, but it is a good idea for employees to ask for and also provide a written record. It is good advice to wait until an offer is unconditional before handing in a notice of resignation to a current employer as the offer could fall through until it has been finalised.
Once a job offer has been accepted, there are certain actions that are able to be taken if an employer decides to withdraw their offer.
The first situation is if the job applicant has evidence that the employer discriminated against them when withdrawing the offer. Discrimination doesn’t have to be based on race, religion or sex, but could also be on age or disability. This is not an exhaustive list and each case is considered on an individual basis. This is unlawful and the applicant can take the employer to an employment tribunal for a resolution.
The second situation is if the employer confirmed the job offer was unconditional or the applicant met all of the necessary conditions. As mentioned earlier, accepting a job offer creates a binding contract between the employer and employee, which means the job applicant can sue the employer for breach of contract.
The third situation is if the employer’s offer was conditional and the applicant did not meet the conditions. In this case, the applicant cannot take any action as there was no contract and no breach.
If a new employee changes their mind about a job after accepting an unconditional offer, the employer is entitled to make them work out any contractual element of their notice, or alternatively sue them for breach of contract.
If someone decides to make a claim to a tribunal, they must usually make the claim within 3 months of their employment ending or the problem happening. The tribunal is independent of the government and will listen to the claimant (the person making the claim) and the respondent (the person or company the claim is being made against) before making any decision.
The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) must be notified of any intention to make a claim. They can be contacted by phone on 0300 123 1100 Monday to Friday between 8am and 8pm, and Saturday between 9am and 1pm.
It may also be useful to gain legal help or advice before making any claim. Free advice is available from Citizen’s Advice or you may have free legal representation from your trade union.
Photo by: Flazingo Photos, “Handshake Man-Woman” April 27, 2014 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution
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