Entering into employment
The uncertainty of the future has brought with it hiring freezes for many of our clients who have questions about where they legally stand with their new hires.
Essentially, there are three situations, as set out below, either the offer has:-
1. not been made yet;
2. been made but not accepted; or
3. been made and accepted.
1 An offer of employment has not been made yet
In these circumstances it may be worth considering delaying the offer in order to give your business some time to consider whether it would be advisable to make the offer at this stage. For example, is the role critical to your business now?
2 An offer of employment has been made but not accepted
If you find yourself in these circumstances, then it is easy (albeit possible a little embarrassing) to withdraw the offer or delay the start date of the individual by issuing a revised offer. This is because although the offer has been made, it has not been legally accepted yet. It is advisable to ensure you have evidence to demonstrate that the original offer has not been accepted and the reasons for its withdrawal, to avoid any allegations of discrimination.
3 An offer has been made and accepted
This is the most difficult position to extract your business from. Once the offer has been accepted a contract is formed.
Unlike option 2, above, you would be not able to ‘withdraw’ an offer in these circumstances. Instead, you would have to give notice of your intention to terminate, similar to the individual being in employment. Depending on the terms of the contract/offer you may need to provide notice that is the “normal” length of notice, i.e. not a shorter period than that you would be able to rely on during a probation period (e.g. a week) because technically they would not be within the probation period.
Alternatively, you could always have an open and frank conversation with the individual and agree a later start date. Understandably, this may cause upset for the individual who may have finished their previous employment to come work for your business. You might consider taking them on but put them on furlough (employed but not working from home) for 3 months under the Government’s new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, so that you can pay them and claim 80% of the employment salary from HMRC subject to cap of £2,500 per employee, per month.