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How to ... make an offer of employment

Once you have selected your ideal candidate, there are a number of steps to go through to make an offer of employment.  You will want to set out the key terms that applies to your offer of employment, including a caveat on what you will do if all the recruitment checks are not satisfactory.  In the offer letter you should cover:-

  • The job title, hours of work, whether it is on a fixed term basis and the rate of pay.  Some employers enclose the contract of employment with the offer letter in which case you can simply reference this document within the offer letter
  • The contract of employment must be issued within 8 weeks of the employee’s start date, so enclosing the contract with the offer, meets this requirement, as well as setting out all the main terms of the contract so there can be no argument down the line
  • It is good practice to state that the offer set out supersedes any previous discussions, which will avoid any confusion if there have been any discussions or negotiations about the job
  • Ensure you advise any conditions that have to be met, for example the offer could be subject to satisfactory references, right to work, confirmation of qualifications, etc (see below)
  • Request the candidate accepts this offer within a certain timescale and how they accept it, ie; they need to ring, send back a copy of the offer letter, etc.


The offer of employment is usually conditional which must be made clear to the prospective employee.  The usual conditions are:-

  • Subject to receipt of references which are satisfactory to the company.  If you do not make an offer subject to satisfactory references, you might be obliged to give or pay contractual notice if you wish to subsequently withdraw an offer of employment.
  • Receipt of medical report or completed medical questionnaire that is satisfactory to you. If the medical information does not come back satisfactory, you will need to be careful about withdrawing the offer of employment as the health matters may be classed as a disability.  In this case you will need to consider if there are any reasonable adjustments to allow the candidate to do the job and only after all options have been explored, consider withdrawing the offer of employment.
  • Receipt of a criminal records check. You can only seek a Disclosure and Barring Service check (formally a CRB check) if you are proposing to employ the individual into a particular occupation (usually working with children or vulnerable adults).
  • Confirmation of qualifications. Ask to see original copies of qualifications, if the job has been offered because of these qualifications, for example you may wish to check they are a qualified accountant, surveyor, etc.  In addition, particularly for senior roles or in sales jobs, you might need to ask for a copy of their contract from their existing employer to check there are no restrictive covenants that could prevent them from taking up your job offer.
  • Confirmation that the employee has the right to work in the UK.  For all employees, you need to carry out checks, before a candidate commences employment, and to keep a record of the checks you have carried out in case of an audit.  If you fail to carry out checks, the company will be subject to criminal and civil penalties (up to £20,000 per individual found to be illegally working). If you have proof of your checks, no penalties will be applied even if the employee has provided you with false documents which were not obviously false.  The easiest way to check a person has the right to work in the UK is to ask the candidate if they have an in-date 10 year passport.  If a passport is not available a document which shows their name and NI number and name and date of birth.  The documents should be copied and immediately returned to the individual.   If the employee has a specific working visa, you need to check that the visa allows them to do the type of work you are requiring of them and note if there is an expiry date.  If there is an expiry date, diarise this at least 2 months prior as the necessary approvals for any extension can take some time.

Withdrawing the offer

From time to time you might have to withdraw an offer because the conditions you have based the offer on have not been met.  It is important to not act hastily, for example if the criminal records check shows a shoplifting incident when they were 17 and they will not come into contact with money in their job, it may not be appropriate to withdraw the offer.  Document the reasons for withdrawing the offer and keep the documentary evidence that supports the reasons for your decision in case of complaint down the line.

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