Withdrawing Offer of Employment

  • Recruitment
Withdrawing Offer
Peninsula Logo

Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

There are so many factors to consider when hiring potential employees.

If you offer an employment contract–but then change your mind–you may withdraw the offer.

When retracting an offer, be aware of the legal rules that surround it. Or else, you could face discrimination claims–leading to substantial business damage.

In this guide, we’ll cover the rules on withdrawing job offers, and how to do it whilst keeping legally compliant.

Can an employer withdraw a job offer?

Yes, employers can withdraw an offer of employment. But before you retract offers, you need to first establish what kind of job it is. Conditional and unconditional offers require separate revoke methods.

Withdrawing a conditional job offer

Conditional job offers normally include candidates having to meet initial requirements.

Retracting a conditional job offer can derive from employment laws to business standards. Some common conditions can include, having:

  • Medical checks.
  • Evidence for academic qualifications.
  • Criminal records (like DBS checks).
  • Job references.
  • Evidence for a right to work.

Withdrawing an unconditional job offer

For unconditional job offers, candidates don’t necessarily need to meet specific requirements.

If a candidate hasn’t accepted an unconditional offer, you can revoke it. But if it has been accepted, it stands as a legally binding contract. And this includes offers of implied contracts.

Why would you withdraw an offer of employment?

There could be several reasons for retracting an offer. And they can come from the business or the candidate themselves.

Businesses can unexpectedly issues, which lead to retractions, lay-offs, and terminations.

There could be recruitment issues, like accidently offering the same position twice. Or not following proper interview standards.

In some cases, you might choose to rescind a job offer because of the candidate’s conduct and behaviour. They might have:

  • Acted unprofessionally during the hiring procedure.
  • Failed the routine checks (like criminal records or intoxication tests).
  • Failed to provide necessary documentation.
  • Provided false documents, references, or certificates.

What are laws on withdrawing offers of employment?

Even though it’s possible to withdraw offers, you can still risk being sued for breach of contract.

A candidate’s job starts when the offer has been accepted. So, they’re legally entitled to employee rights, even before they’ve started work or even signed their contract.

It’s vital that your reasons for retracting an offer of employment are fair and just. When you decide to retract an offer, your reasons must not be influenced by a protected characteristic.

Under the Equality Act (2010), employees are protected from discrimination against:

  • Age.
  • Disability.
  • Gender reassignment. 
  • Marriage and civil partnership. 
  • Pregnancy and maternity.
  • Race. 
  • Religion and belief. 
  • Sex.
  • Sexual orientation.

If a candidate believes your reasons were discriminatory, they could take legal actions against you. Compensation penalties and tribunal attendance can create substantial damage to your business.

How to withdraw an accepted job offer

There are certain steps to follow when withdrawing an offer after it’s been accepted. And they differ depending on whether the offer was conditional or unconditional.

Withdrawing a conditional offer after it’s been accepted

Your reasons must be fair and without discrimination. That way, your business is legally protected if unlawful claims were raised.

To revoke a conditional offer, you should provide a withdrawal offer of employment letter . The letter should outline your decision, discussions, and what steps to take next.

Withdrawing an unconditional offer after it’s been accepted

When it comes to revoking unconditional offers, you can follow the same process as before.

However, once the offer has been accepted, the employment contract has legally started.

If you decide to recall an unconditional offer, you should hold a meeting to explain your reasons. This is important, especially if reasons were beyond your control like, financial difficulties or admin errors.

After the meeting, provide a letter to explain the reasons. You can even present opportunities for future or alternative roles.

Get expert advice on withdrawing job offers with Peninsula

You might need to withdraw employment offers when you least expect it. Decisions can be from internal business factors, or from the candidate themselves.

When a candidate is no longer suitable for a role, you need to follow a fair and professional method for revoking the offer.

If you don’t, you could end their roles unfairly. This can lead to claims of contract breaches and discrimination–negatively impacting your business.

Peninsula offers expert advice on withdrawing job offers. We’ll help you follow the correct steps for letting candidates go, whilst keeping legally compliant.

Contact us for any HR or employment law issues, or request a call back for a time that suits you. Call 0800 051 3681

Related articles

  • people gathered round a table working


    Workplace Productivity

    Read our guide where we'll discuss the benefits of high workplace productivity, productivity techniques, and what makes a productive team.

    Peninsula TeamPeninsula Team
    • Performance & Appraisals
  • a woman sat on a cliff with a sunset


    Sabbatical Leave

    Read our guide where we'll discuss what sabbatical leave is, how long it can last, and how to manage it in your business.

    Peninsula TeamPeninsula Team
    • Leave and Absence
  • Family Friendly Workplace


    Part-Time Workers

    In this guide, we’ll look at what a part-time worker is, what their legal rights are, and ensuring equal treatment of them and full-time workers.

    Peninsula GroupHR and Health & Safety Experts
    • Working Time
Back to resource hub

Try Brainbox for free today

When AI meets 40 years of Peninsula expertise... you get instant, expert answers to your HR and health & safety questions

Sign up to our newsletter

Get the latest news & tips that matter most to your business in our monthly newsletter.

International sites

© 2023 Peninsula Business Services Limited. Registered Office: The Peninsula, Victoria Place, Manchester, M4 4FB. Registered in England and Wales No: 1702759. Peninsula Business Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority for the sale of non-investment insurance contracts.

ISO 27001 and 9001 accredited company.
The Sunday Times - Top Track 250.
Glassdoor 2018 Best Places To Work.