We’ve recently had a number of enquiries from potential clients with retracted job offers, including from the organisers of the Commonwealth Games.

These are people who have applied for a job, gone for several interviews, passed the vetting procedures, handed in their notice with their employers but then suffered the heartbreak of a retracted job offer.

These clients have included a project manager, media managers and merchandise retail specialists.

It seems unfair. These potential clients want to know what can be done, what the law is and what to do next.

The answer is, sadly, very little. Until an employee has two years’ service with an employer, they don’t have the right to claim unfair dismissal before an employment tribunal. That is a claim that brings real compensation for loss of earnings. So these employees may have left a job where unreasonable employer behaviour would have led to real compensation and into a position where they have no recourse.

Once an employment contract is binding, the employer is not allowed to breach it without giving notice, which means paying a sum in lieu of the notice period. Typically this is a month’s pay. To take the example of our project manager above, he left a job paying £60k and could only claim £4k (after tax) for this retracted job offer.

It’s only a claim for unfair dismissal (not a claim for breach of contract) which gives an employee the right to claim for loss of earnings. You might otherwise know these as consequential losses. The previous employer is under no obligation to take back an employee with a retracted job offer, since a resignation becomes binding once the employee has communicated it to the employer. Despite the fact that in common parlance we talk about managers who might accept or refuse to accept a resignation, an employer has no power to refuse to accept a resignation.

The point at which an employment contract becomes binding isn’t always clear. It is when an agreement has been reached, which is usually, but not always, when both parties have signed a written agreement. It is usually not enough when only the employee has signed the agreement, because it usually contains a clause saying that it requires both signatures to become binding.

If you’ve applied to a major employer such as Birmingham2022 for a job, but have suffered from a retracted a job offer, then let us know. We’d like to bring this to public notice.