Contract terms. A job offer withdrawn?

Site updated on February 17, 2020

Contract terms – Some are clear and in writing, called Express terms. Some employment rights and terms come though custom and practice and are called Implied terms.

Your contract is made up from a number of terms – not everything in your contract will be written down for example.

Contract terms may be:

(a) express – terms which are spelled out clearly – normally in writing; this will be an offer letter, Statement of Terms or Company Policy perhaps.

(b) implied – terms which are not spelled out in writing,  perhaps because they are too obvious to be recorded or because they are common practice within the business or industry. Some terms and conditions of employment become implied because they have become an accepted way of doing things for a period of time. They are often not written down but rapidly become accepted by new employees. Examples include the provision of a bonus payment; transport to and from work or free parking, an extra days holiday at  Christmas: a relaxed attitude to appearance or timekeeping, etc. Where such customs have grown up and been accepted, they can be said to be implied into your contract. If your Employer changes these without proper consultation and reasonable notice, this could well be a breach of your contract. If this happens contact our Advice Line for further help.

(c) incorporated – these are terms which may be included into your contract of employment through collective agreements (with a trade union recognised by your Employer) or works rules.  Your Statement of Employment Terms should tell you whether your contract can be changed like this.

(d) statutory – these are statutory regulations, e.g. maternity rights or equal pay, and apply automatically to any contract. You are always entitled to these legal rights; even if your contract says otherwise!


I have had a job offer withdrawn.

If an employer has offered you a job but then changes their mind and withdraws the offer, whether you can take any action will depend on whether the job offer was made subject to any conditions.

If the job offer was subject to conditions, for example, the employer wanted to take up references or you were required to have a medical, and these were unsatisfactory, you will probably not be able to make a claim against the employer for any compensation. This is because there was never any contract of employment. There was only a conditional offer of a job and the conditions have not been met.

If the job offer made no mention of any conditions, even if it was verbal,  you may be able to claim compensation in the employment tribunal or the county court (Court of Session in Scotland) for breach of contract. This is a breach of contract because you were offered the job with no conditions, you accepted the offer and then the offer was withdrawn. Although the job has not started, it has been decided that once a job has been offered and the offer has been accepted, there is a contract of employment. If the employer then withdraws the job offer, this will be dismissal and a breach of contract. If you have given up another job because you were offered the new job, you may also be able to claim compensation based on what you were earning in your previous job and on how long it would have taken you to find another job had you left that job to find another one.

If an employer withdraws a conditional job offer even though all the conditions were met, you may also be able to claim compensation in the same way.

If you think that the job offer has been withdrawn because of discrimination, you could consider making a discrimination claim to an employment tribunal. You would first need to investigate the circumstances around why you were not given the job, to see if the reason was really discriminatory or not.

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