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Topic: Recruitment

letter withdrawing conditional offer of appointment
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Letter withdrawing conditional offer of appointment

Letter withdrawing conditional offer of appointment

If you make a conditional job offer and the conditions are not satisfactorily fulfilled within a reasonable period of time, you should be safe in withdrawing the job offer on that basis and you can use our letter to assist you. However, be careful when considering withdrawing unconditional accepted job offers.

Conditional offer

Our Offer of Appointment Letter makes a job offer conditional on a number of documents being produced, including two satisfactory references, evidence of the employee’s right to work in the UK, a satisfactory medical report, a basic/standard/enhanced certificate issued by the Disclosure and Barring Service, proof of the employee’s stated qualifications and UK driving licence. These are all optional conditions and you should choose which ones apply to the particular job role, but as a minimum you should look for satisfactory references and proof of eligibility to work in the UK. 

Unfulfilled conditions

So what happens if a poor reference comes back, the DBS criminal records check reveals criminal convictions which make the employee unsuitable for the job role, or they fail to produce the required documentation demonstrating their right to work in the UK (or you’re unable to confirm right to work through the Home Office online right to work checking service)? Provided the offer of appointment was clearly conditional on (a) the required documentation being produced within a reasonable timeframe, and (b) the produced documentation being, in your opinion, satisfactory, you can withdraw the job offer without legal redress.  It’s important to make the offer conditional on the produced documentation being satisfactory in your opinion, and not satisfactory under an objective test, as this will avoid arguments as to what’s satisfactory and what isn’t, particularly when it comes to references. To withdraw the conditional job offer, simply write to the employee explaining that one or more of the conditions under which the offer was made have not been fulfilled and setting out what the problem is. Your letter should then confirm that, because of this, the offer of employment is withdrawn with immediate effect. This is all covered in our Letter Withdrawing Conditional Offer of Appointment.

Unconditional job offers

If, however, you failed to make the job offer conditional, once an offer of employment has been made and accepted, a valid contract exists even though the date when the employee is due to start work may not be for some time. You’ve effectively given a commitment to employ. If, in these circumstances, you retract the job offer prior to the commencement of work, the employee has the following remedies:


 a wrongful dismissal claim - the employee is likely to be able to claim damages for what would have been their notice period had they started work and been dismissed on their first day

 a discrimination claim - the employee could argue the withdrawal of the job offer was unlawfully discriminatory, e.g. you can’t withdraw a job offer because you discover someone is pregnant. 


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