Ask the Expert – Withdrawing a Job Offer

I offered someone a position in my business which she accepted. She promptly resigned her previous job, but now I need to withdraw the offer due to unforeseen circumstances. What are the implications here?

If she has accepted the offer, then a contract has been formed (unless there were any pre-conditions which have not yet been satisfied). This is the case even if she has not yet started work with you. As such, by withdrawing the offer you will be terminating the contract, and you will need to give her the required period of notice under the contract. And if that notice is not paid up by you, then she could bring a claim for that notice payment.

The real issue is what this period of notice is. The law says that an employer is entitled to act in the way that suits it best. So, if the contract contains a probationary period during which the employment can be terminated on say one week’s notice, then that would be the amount. However, if the minimum notice period is say three months, then that would be the amount. This is one reason why it is wise to include probationary periods in contracts of employment.

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