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Making job offers

Updating author: Lynda Macdonald


Once a job offer is made and accepted, a binding contract of employment is formed. It is in both the employer's and the prospective employee's interests that the terms of the contract should be clearly spelled out in writing from the outset of employment.

  • A contract of employment can exist irrespective of whether anything has been put in writing. (See Contracts of employment)
  • The withdrawal of an unconditional job offer will constitute a breach of contract, entitling the prospective employee to sue the employer for damages. (See Contracts of employment)
  • In order for a term or condition to form part of an employment contract, it must be agreed between the parties. (See The importance of obtaining agreement)
  • Employers are under a statutory obligation to put certain key terms of employment in writing for all employees - known as a written statement of particulars of employment. (See The terms of employment that must be in writing)
  • A written statement of particulars issued by the em ployer cannot of itself effect a variation to the terms of a contract of employment unless the employee has expressly agreed to any change contained within it. (See The terms of employment that must be in writing)
  • The right to be given a written statement applies to part-time employees irrespective of how many hours they work per week or per month. (See The terms of employment that must be in writing)
  • It is useful to include flexibility clauses in contracts of employment, particularly in relation to hours of work, job duties (if these are specified) and the employee's place of work. (See Flexibility)
  • Many employers elect to ask successful job applicants to undergo pre-employment medical checks to ensure their fitness to perform the job and to identify any pre-existing medical conditions. (See Pre-employment medical checks)
  • It is potential discrimination on the ground of disability to ask a job applicant to complete a health questionnaire or attend a medical examination before making a job offer to that person. (See Pre-employment medical checks)
  • In the event that a job applicant refuses to agree to a medical examination, the employer may legitimately decline to make a job offer, or withdraw a job offer that had been made conditional upon a satisfactory medical examination. (See Human rights implications)
  • Information about an individual's physical and mental health is regarded as "sensitive data" under the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Act requires the individual's express consent to be obtained before such information is processed. (See Medical questionnaires)
  • All job offers should be made conditional upon satisfactory references being obtained, so that if the references are unsatisfactory, the employer can lawfully withdraw the offer without being in breach of contract. (See Checking references and qualifications)
  • Employers are, as a general rule, not obliged to provide a reference for an employee who has left their employment, but if they do so they are under a duty of care to ensure the reference is factual, accurate and not misleading. (See Checking references and qualifications)
  • All job offers should be subject to the candidate being able to produce evidence of his or her right to work in the UK. (See Checking right to work in the UK)

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