If your job offer is withdrawn

An employer can withdraw a job offer. This job offer explains what rights you might have if a job offer is withdrawn, and how you can bring a claim

Can a job offer be withdrawn?

A potential employer can withdraw a job offer at any time before the offer is accepted: like most contracts, an offer only becomes binding when it is accepted.

The nature of a job offer and any conditions attached to it could be a deciding factor in whether an employer can withdraw an offer before being bound by it – what you can do if a job offer is withdrawn depends on whether the job offer was:

  1. Conditional; or
  2. Unconditional

What is a conditional job offer?

A job offer may be made by an employer subject to meeting certain conditions – examples of what these conditions could be are listed below:

  • Receiving satisfactory references
  • Passing an assessment/test
  • A successful criminal records check (for example, a DBS check – find out more on DBS checks here)
  • Evidence of your academic qualifications
  • You passing certain medical checks
  • Proof of eligibility to work in the UK; and/or

A conditional offer may be withdrawn or rescinded if any of the conditions are not met – for example, if you receive unsatisfactory references from your referees.

If a conditional job offer is withdrawn then you can ask your employer why they have withdrawn the job. However, an employer does not have to give you the reason for the withdrawal.

What is an unconditional job offer?

An unconditional job offer is where a job offer is made without conditions attached to it – this may mean , in certain conditions, that there is automatically a contract of employment.

You may have a contract of employment if the following applies:

  • There were no conditions attached to the offer (for example, no need for references or criminal record checks – see examples of such conditions above);
  • The employer set out the terms of what you are being offered in a clear and unambiguous way, whether verbally or in writing; and
  • You then accepted the job offer

If you accept an unconditional job offer and your employer subsequently tries to withdraw from the job offer then, in these circumstances, the applicant can sue for breach of contract – this is addressed below.

What if your job offer was verbal?

A verbal job offer can be legally binding but, because it is not in writing, it will be more difficult to enforce. If a verbal offer of employment is made to you then it is advisable to follow up with the person making the offer by email to confirm the fact of the offer and details of what you have been offered. Another option may be to ask the employer to email you confirmation of the offer and terms.

If you think that you have been discriminated against

A potential employer may be liable for discrimination if the reasons for withdrawing a job offer relates to one of more of the nine protected characteristics under the Equality Act, namely:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religiion and belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

If you believe you have a claim for discrimination you should issue a claim at an Employment Tribunal (please note that there is a limitation period of three months less one day to bring a claim for discrimination and, further, that you will normally need to complete the ACAS Early Conciliation process prior to issuing a claim).

What can I do if a job offer is withdrawn

If your employer withdraws a job offer then you should normally do the following:

  1. Approach the employer to obtain more information;
  2. Speak to a legal adviser
  3. Consider whether to pursue a legal claim

Approach the employer to obtain more information

If you are considering making a claim because of the withdrawal of a job offer then it’s normally advisable to speak to the employer first. Approach them and:

  • Ask why the job offer was withdrawn
  • Explain the impact of the withdrawal of the job offer on you: for example, if you’ve recently taken out a loan on the strength of the job offer or if you’ve already left your old job
  • State what you want as a resolution to the situation

You may wish to make a subject access request to obtain your personal data: this can sometimes show why a job offer was withdrawn.

Speak to a legal adviser

If you think that your contract was breached by the withdrawal of the job offer then you should speak to an adviser – this could be a firm of solicitors, or you could speak to ACAS or Citizens Advice.

Making a claim

If your employer has breached the terms of your contract of employment by withdrawing a job offer then you may have a claim against them. The type of claim that you would have would normally depend on the circumstances: you would normally have a breach of contract claim but, if you have been subjected to discrimination, then you may also have a claim for discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 – such a claim may mean potentially higher compensation, should you succeed with it.

For example, if your employer withdrew a job offer because it found out that you have a serious medical condition then you may have a claim for disability discrimination as well as a claim for breach of contract. For example, in H v Partnerships In Care Ltd 3323674/2019 a disabled employee won £35,000 from an organisation after it withdrew an offer of employment because she suffered from a medical condition (see our analysis of this case here).

If you only have a claim for breach of contract then your claim will normally be limited to the value of your salary for the notice pay only. In some circumstances the contract offered to you may not specify the period of notice that you are entitled to: in this type of case a court will need to determine what the “reasonable” notice period would have been (by analysing the nature of the job, the salary that you had been offered, any discussions you might have had about the length of the notice period etc.).

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