Why employers may be forced to revoke an offer the best way to do so

Valentina GolubovicValentina Golubovic
Last updated on:
January 19, 2023
Published on:
January 6, 2023

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In today's job market, it's not uncommon for employers to extend job offers to candidates only to have to revoke those offers due to unforeseen circumstances. While it's never an easy situation for either party, it's important for employers to handle the revocation of a job offer in a professional and respectful manner. In this article, we'll explore the reasons why employers may be forced to revoke a job offer and the best ways to do so.

A job offer letter vs an employment contract

A job offer letter and an employment contract are not the same things. An offer letter is a formal offer made to a candidate to work for the company in a specific position for a specified salary. The offer may include details about the job duties, salary, benefits, and other terms of employment. At this stage the candidate can negotiate the terms in the offer letter by providing a counter offer. A conditional offer will usually state that the official employment is conditional to successful references and background checks where as an unconditional offer, if accepted, equates to a legally binding contract.

An employment contract is a legally binding agreement between an employer and an employee that outlines the terms of the employment relationship. It can be written or verbal, and it generally includes details such as the job role, the salary, any benefits provided to the employee, the notice period and other vital clauses. It is important for the employee to thoroughly review and understand the terms of an employment contract before signing it.

Why may an employer revoke a job offer?

Unsatisfactory references

Prior to sending out the employment contract, an employer would conduct reference checks to verify the information provided by the future employee. References are important as they demonstrate that the employee is honest and truthful about past roles and experience. Failure to obtain a satisfactory reference can lead to an employment offer being rescinded.

Is it illegal to give a bad reference?

There may be a misconception that it is illegal to give a bad reference. The government website states that a reference must be "fair and accurate" and that the employee should be able to back up any statements made.

What does an employer ask for in a reference?

An employer can provide a basic or detailed reference. A basic reference includes factual information confirming the employee's job role and dates employed while a detailed reference can shine a light on the employee's skills, discipline and suitability for the new role.


If an employer discovers that an employee has lied about their academic achievements or experience on their CV, it is likely that the employer will choose to revoke the job offer. This is because honesty and integrity are important qualities that employers look for lying on a CV calls into question their trustworthiness.

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Suitability for the role

In addition, if an employee has falsified their qualifications or experience, it may become apparent that they are not actually qualified for the job, which could lead to problems on the job. In order to maintain a positive reputation and avoid any potential issues, it is generally in the best interests of the employer to revoke the job offer in this situation.

Immigration and criminal record checks

It is a legal requirement to verify the employee's right to work in the UK. This will usually require checking that the employee has a UK passport, relevant visa or share code.

Depending on the job they may also conduct a criminal record check. While this might not be the case in all instances, for roles which require a degree of responsibility such as dealing with sensitive data, accounting or finance roles or client-facing roles, employers may want to be thorough when hiring and conducting such checks.

Can the employer revoke an employment contract after the new employee has signed it?

Once the employee has signed or verbally agreed to the employment agreement it is a legally binding contract which can't be revoked. The employer must then follow the procedure outlined in the contract when it comes to dismissing staff which includes providing the legal notice period for an employee on their probation and following relevant disciplinary procedures if the employee is past their probation.

How to revoke an offer?

If you do need to revoke an offer, it's important to handle the situation carefully and professionally.

It is best to do it as soon as possible and while the candidate hasn't made any arrangements such as relocating or quitting their current job.

An employer doesn't have to give a reason as to why they are retracting the job offer however if the candidate has reason to believe its due to discrimination they can sue the employer by taking them to the employment tribunal.

Remember, that withdrawing a job offer can be a difficult and sensitive situation, but it's important to handle it with care in order to maintain a positive reputation as an employer.

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