White Paper published by The HR Specialist, copyright 2007
When it comes to making job offers, your hiring managers could be inadvertently locking your organization into an employment contract with the new hire. It's a common mistake, and only a few misplaced words can sink you. Employers who use written job-offer letters run the highest risk of creating implied promises.
To avoid creating any job-security promises, follow these six do's and don'ts when offering a job:
1. Do explain that the candidate is being hired ‘at will,' meaning your organization can terminate his or her employment at any time for any nondiscriminatory reason. Include at-will statements in offer letters and employee handbooks.
2. Don't imply job security with statements such as, "You'll be able to grow here" or "You have a long career here." Specify the job's starting date, but keep out any reference to length of employment.
3. Don't describe job responsibilities. Cite the name of the new hire's boss and explain that they'll meet on the first day to discuss duties.
4. Do clarify that continued employment depends on several things, including following organization policies and procedures. Cite job-offer contingencies, such as signing a nondisclosure agreement or drug test.
5. Don't cite an annual salary figure. Courts could see that as a one-year hiring commitment. Instead, specify how much the employee will receive each pay period.
6. Don't ask new hires to sign offer letters. But keep a copy in your files. If you make the offer orally, keep notes of what you promised.
Online resources: You can buy a generic offer letter at www.laborforms.com. Find offer letters tailored to each state's laws at www.findlegalforms.com (click on "Employment Forms" and then "Employment Offer Letter").
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