A Guide to Withdrawing a Job Offer in the UK

Withdrawing a job offer is never something that should be done lightly. However, there are cases when an employer simply has to do it. This article will lead you through the process of withdrawing a job offer in the UK.

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Is It Possible To Withdraw an Offer of Employment?

There are two distinct ways to think about this question. The first is withdrawing an offer of conditional employment, with the second being withdrawing an offer of unconditional employment. Let’s break each of these down…

Is It Possible To Withdraw a Conditional Offer?

An employer can withdraw a conditional job offer all the way to the point in which the candidate accepts the offer. On top of that, an employer may also revoke the job offer at any point in the process – mainly if they have found out that some of the requirements for employment have not been fulfilled. 

Some of these qualifying conditions may include: 

  • A work permit to legally work in the UK

  • CRB (DBS) checks that are required for the person to work with children

  • Valid driving licence

  • Background and referral checks

  • Medical examinations for specific jobs

  • Academic qualifications

This isn’t a definitive list of requirements that a job might require. Specific jobs might require different kinds of requirements from candidates. 

Is It Possible To Withdraw an Unconditional Offer?

Withdrawing an unconditional offer is a lot less cut and dry. First, when you offer a candidate a job offer with no conditions and they accept it (even if it’s only verbally), they are already legally working for your company. 

To withdraw the employment offer at that stage would have almost the same legal repercussions as having to fire an employee from your organisation. Even though you can still legally withdraw the offer, you are assuming much more risk. 

As an employer, this means exercising caution when offering candidates unconditional job offers – since they cannot be taken back easily. 

A few more considerations include: 

  • Age of the candidate

  • If they have a disability

  • The gender of the candidate

  • Their relationship status

  • If the candidate is pregnant

  • Race, creed or sexual orientation

If it can be proven that any of these things resulted in a job offer being withdrawn, you may be breaching The Equality Act which protects employees from discrimination.

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Why Might an Employer Withdraw a Job Offer?

The hiring process is a very serious one. It takes a lot of time, effort, funds and staff to make a great hiring process run. However, sometimes “false positives” may occur where a job offer needs to be withdrawn for a host of reasons. 

One of the major reasons for the decision can be a sudden change in finances. This might cause an organisation to shut down its hiring process and try to deal with any sudden financial issues or stresses.

Additionally, internal hiring problems are also a source for withdrawal measures. Mistakes in the hiring process such as hiring for a position that’s already been filled or an administrative failure of sending a job offer to the wrong candidate can all be reasons to withdraw an offer. 

How Do You Withdraw an Offer of Employment?

When it comes to withdrawing a job offer in the UK, the first mandate is that an employer truthfully discloses why an offer has been withdrawn. 

For many, this is where conditional job offers play a key role. Conditional offers can provide the company with all the required reasons to withdraw an offer. If any of the requirements have not been made, the company may legally withdraw the offer with little repercussion. 

On the other hand, withdrawing an unconditional offer (as we mentioned) is a far tougher task. The first thing an employer should do is call the candidate and discuss the reasons informing their decision to withdraw an offer. 

The candidate in question must be made aware of the reason why the company decided to withdraw the offer. If they’re financial reasons or internal errors, explain them to the candidate so they have a complete understanding. 

After you had the conversation with the candidate, you can then send them a formal letter/notice stating the withdrawal of your offer. 

Can an Applicant Withdraw an Offer of Acceptance?

Of course, there are two sides to every coin. It can also happen that a candidate may seek to withdraw their acceptance of a job offer. In this case, candidates are best informed to send their prospective employer a letter explaining their reasoning. 

As an employer, it is best to reply to the letter and ensure that you stay in good relations with the candidate. If they seemed like a great candidate at one point in time for your company, they may still be a great candidate for your company in the future. 

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