What should I do if my job offer is withdrawn?


You might have applied for a teaching position at another school only to have it withdrawn at the last moment. ACAS explains that employers can withdraw job offers. 

How employers withdraw depends on whether your job offer was ‘conditional’ or ‘unconditional’. In this article, we look at the differences between conditional and unconditional job offers and what you can do if you feel you have been unfairly treated.

What is a conditional job offer?

ACAS explains that if your job offer depends on references or other checks, this is a conditional job offer.

For example, before you can be employed, the employer might need to see:

  • References
  • Criminal record checks (for example, a DBS check – find out more about DBS checks on GOV.UK)
  • Medical checks
  • Proof of your academic qualifications
  • Proof of your right to work in the UK

An employer can withdraw a job offer if the conditions of the offer are not met. For example, if your references show you might not be able to do the job.

You can ask an employer why they have withdrawn a conditional job offer. An employer does not have to tell you the reason.

We’ve written another support article which looks at the topic of asking your school for a job reference and examples of what references look like.

What is an unconditional job offer?

Some job offers are made without any conditions. Sometimes this means you have an employment contract.

For example, you might have an employment contract if all the following apply:

  • There were no conditions, for example, no need for references or background checks
  • The employer set out the terms in a clear and definite way – verbally or in writing
  • You accepted the job offer

By law an employment contract could begin as soon as someone accepts a job offer, even if they only accepted it verbally. So an employer should not withdraw the offer without also ending the contract.

If your job offer was verbal

A verbal job offer is legally the same as a written one, but it can be difficult to prove the details if it’s not in writing.

If you feel you need it you can ask the employer for a written job offer. For example, you could ask the employer to email you to confirm:

  • The job being offered
  • Where the job is located
  • When the job starts
  • Specific terms of employment, for example pay, working hours or holiday entitlement
  • If the job offer has any conditions, for example references or background checks

If you think you have been discriminated against

An employer could be breaking discrimination law if they withdraw a job offer because of any of the 9 ‘protected characteristics’: 

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

For example, if your employer finds out you are pregnant, it’s against the law for them to withdraw your job offer because of your pregnancy.

Discrimination claims can be taken to an employment tribunal. If you go to tribunal the employer will have to prove they did not discriminate against you. We have published another support article which provides a summary of the topic of employment tribunals.

Raising an issue about a job withdrawal

If you have an issue with your job offer being withdrawn, try speaking to the employer or person hiring.

It can help if you:

  • Ask why the job offer has been withdrawn
  • Explain your concerns
  • Show any relevant evidence, for example, emails or background checks
  • Say what you’d like to happen to resolve the issue
  • Are prepared to listen to their point of view

If you are an Edapt subscriber, you can contact us for advice and support if your job offer has been withdrawn.

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The information contained within this article is not a complete or final statement of the law.
While Edapt has sought to ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date, it is not responsible and will not be held liable for any inaccuracies and their consequences, including any loss arising from relying on this information. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence. If you are an Edapt subscriber with an employment-related issue, please contact us and we will be able to refer you to one of our caseworkers.