Once you've chosen who you'd like to employ, you may wish to make them a job offer by telephone. This can help you quickly establish if the individual wants to accept the post.
If that is the case, you can go on to discuss any terms of employment that need to be agreed upon - eg their salary, wages and benefits.
If your chosen candidate accepts your offer of employment verbally, you should then send them a formal offer letter including:
- their name
- their job title
- the terms on which the job is offered
- the date agreed that their employment will start
- whether they will have a probationary period
- any conditions eg checks on eligibility to work in the UK and take up the employment in question
- details of any action required by the candidate to meet those conditions eg production of suitable evidence proving that they have the right to work in the UK
You should bear in mind that an offer letter can form part of an employee's contract of employment. You must therefore ensure that the terms and conditions outlined in the offer letter are correct, as these can be contractually enforceable.
You must also give new employees a written statement of their main terms and conditions of employment within two months of the starting date if they are going to be working with you for a period of one month or more. Read more on the written statement.
For further information, see the employment contract.
Ask the candidate to send you a signed copy of the offer letter - this establishes the terms on which the offer was made, in case of any disputes.
Note that if the job offer is unconditional and the candidate accepts it, a contract of employment exists between you and them.
This means that they may benefit from certain employment-protection rights, eg a claim of discrimination, even if they haven't actually started working for you.
However, you should note that the right to claim discrimination applies even if no job offer has been made.
Making conditional offers of employment
Offers can be subject to candidates meeting certain conditions based on your pre-employment checks, such as:
- a criminal records check (CRC) via AccessNI
- a medical examination - if relevant, this must apply to all prospective workers, not just those with a disability
- providing suitable references - you should be aware that the referees may refuse to provide a reference or may wrongly indicate an applicant's suitability
- providing proof that they have the right to be and work in the UK - read more on ensuring your workers are eligible to work in the UK and use this interactive tool to check if your workers are eligible to work in the UK
Employment offers can also be made subject to successful completion of a probationary period.
You will need to carry out the necessary checks as soon as possible and before the employment starts - most prospective workers won't wish to hand in their notice until they have had an unconditional offer of employment from you.
Assuming your first choice candidate meets all the conditions, you should send them another - unconditional - offer letter. If they can't meet the conditions, you can withdraw your offer and turn to your second-choice candidate if you have one.
Avoiding unlawful discrimination when making offers of employment
You should ensure that no one is discouraged or excluded from accepting a job because of, for example, their gender, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, religious belief or political opinion, disability, sexual orientation, race, pregnancy, ethnicity or age.
If you are found to be operating discriminatory recruitment practices, an unsuccessful job applicant may be able to bring an unlawful discrimination claim to an industrial tribunal or fair employment tribunal - even if you were unaware of such practices.
If their claim is successful, there is no cap on the amount of compensation that the tribunal can award.