Careers advice > Conditional and unconditional job offers

Conditional and unconditional job offers


You spent hours crafting your CV, spent sleepless nights worrying about the interview, and shook with nerves in front of your potential employer in a desperate need to impress them.

But once this is all over, there’s only two ways it can go right? You’ll either get the “you’re hired” call or you won’t? Rather annoyingly, this isn’t always the case.

Confused? We explain everything you need to know about conditional job offers.




Conditional job offers

Unfortunately, the road to employment isn’t always smooth and just because you aced the interview doesn’t mean the boss has to offer you the job straight away, they can choose to give you a conditional offer instead.

A conditional offer means you’ll be given the job once certain conditions are met. It might seem like the boss is only doing this to prolong your sleepless nights, but it’s nothing to worry about as normally the condition is something fairly minor. Examples of contractual conditions employers can ask for include:

  • Satisfactory references
  • Criminal record checks
  • Checking/gaining certain qualifications
  • Medical exam (although this is very rare)
  • Proof you’re eligible to work in the UK (e.g. copy of passport or birth certificate)

You can also be set a probation period to pass before you’re taken on officially

You’ll be given a set time to complete the conditions, and this is one deadline you won’t want to miss. If you don’t give the required information on time, the offer of employment could be taken away, unless the employer kindly agrees to extend the deadline or even waiver the condition completely (if this happens, you know that you’ve seriously impressed them).

Remember, until you’ve completed their set conditions, you haven’t officially got the job. So if you’re leaving your current job for a new position, make sure you’ve fulfilled all the set criteria before you start telling everyone at your old company how much you hate them. (note, never do this anyway).

Unconditional job offers

Congratulations! You impressed at the interview and have been given an unconditional offer by the employer! No matter what, you’ve got yourself a brand new job! You’ll have the same rights as all the other employees and you won’t have to worry about passing that pesky probation period.

When you’re offered a job, whether unconditional or conditional, it’s standard practise to be given a formal letter by your new employer, so don’t just accept a verbal confirmation of your role. The letter will officially confirm your job offer as well as providing further details including information about your job description, location of the office, starting date and terms of your employment.

What are your rights?

Here comes the tricky part; what happens if the employer changes their mind and takes the job offer away from you?

Sadly if you’ve been given a conditional offer, the employer is well within their rights to withdraw the job before you accept it, especially if you haven’t met their conditions, (e.g.: you got a bad reference or failed to send requested documents in time).

When it comes to conditional offers, no legal action can be taken unless you feel you weren’t given the job based on discriminatory reasons. This can include:

  • Harassment
  • Victimisation
  • Indirect discrimination (when criteria or work practices disadvantage people of a specific racial or ethnic group)

But the rules change if you’ve accepted an unconditional offer, because at this point you’ve got a contract of employment with the company. If a job offer is taken away when you’ve already accepted it, the employer has breached the terms of their contract, so you become entitled to compensation.

What happens if YOU change your mind?

It’s a typical scenario, you wait for one job for ages, and then two offers come along at once, annoyingly after you’ve already accepted another job that isn’t as good.

If you’ve changed your mind about a job offer, you need to tell the employer as soon as possible, preferably before accepting it officially.

If you’ve already accepted an unconditional offer, the employer may try and get compensation for a breach of contract, although this is very rare as it often costs the company more money to take it to court than they’d end up receiving, so unless your decision has had huge financial implications, it’s unlikely to happen.

Just make sure you’re positive about turning down the job, it’s unlikely to impress the company if you change your mind again.


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