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How to Make a Conditional Employment Offer

Key Takeaways

1. A conditional employment offer usually comes with pre-employment conditions or contingencies that an applicant must meet before commencing employment.

2. Whether you are a job seeker or hiring manager, knowing which type of offer to deliver or accept comes down to the actual job requirements or your company’s needs. Any conditions that you set for an applicant to meet should be realistic and suitable to the work being taken on.

3. When making a conditional employment offer, it’s important to provide clear provisions as to exactly what it means to meet each condition you set out. It’s important that no clause can be misinterpreted or written in a way that makes any promises.

4. If you need to enter a foreign market quickly, using the support of a global PEO can make hiring foreign employees with conditional offers quick while meeting all compliance matters associated with the target country.

An offer to employ an individual can be made with or without conditions. In this article we breakdown how to make a conditional offer of employment. 

Note, this does not constitute legal advice. Before proceeding with a conditional offer of employment, you should seek professional advice about your proposed actions.  

What is a conditional offer of employment?

The recruitment process can be a tiresome and lengthy process for all those involved, no matter what position is up for grabs, and no matter if the employee is local or foreign. For certain roles, this process is made even longer when a conditional offer of employment is on the table at the point of job offer. To understand exactly what a conditional offer of employment is, it is best to first make a distinction from its counterpart offer type, an unconditional offer of employment.

Unconditional Offer of Employment

An unconditional offer has no eligibility preconditions at the point when a job or contract offer is made to a prospected employee. The offer in question cannot be retracted by an employer at this point and it is down to the prospective employee to accept, negotiate or decline the offer. If the applicant accepts, then both parties immediately enter a legally binding employment relationship. Generally, if an unconditional offer of employment is given to an applicant, the hiring manager should require no further information from them.

Conditional Offer of Employment

These aspects of an unconditional offer are exactly where a conditional offer differs. A conditional employment offer is when a job offer is given to an applicant, but that applicant can only commence employment once certain role-specific requirements are met. This also means that there is no legally binding aspect behind the offer, and either party can withdraw their position during the conditional offer timeframe. Conditional offers are also often referred to as contingent offers. Conditional offers are commonly given for government or contract roles but can be found across all industries.  

So, what are some conditions or contingencies that may pop up in conditional job offer situations? Here are some of the most common conditions:

  • Drug or medical testing requirements
  • Attaining a certain certification or successful completion of training
  • Passing a background and/or reference check
  • Proof of educational or any professional achievements
  • Meeting immigration requirements such as visas, passports, residence permits (foreign applicants)
  • Any other company-specific condition (probationary period, task-related) 

Note, in some countries, there will be legal restrictions on which conditions can be applied. Before making a conditional offer, it is crucial that you have checked the legality of any proposed conditions. 

While many of these listed conditions will usually take place before any employment-related tasks are undertaken, there are times when employers need a position filled quickly or will use a conditional offer of employment as a probationary period. In instances like this, it is used to see if an applicant can handle the type of work duties effectively and a full offer of employment will be given once the specified time has lapsed.

What are the benefits of a conditional offer of employment?

At times, conditional employment offers can bring with them a sense of uncertainty for both job seekers and hiring managers. Despite this, there are actually several benefits associated with making or receiving a conditional employment offer.

1. Time to confirm an applicant is a right fit

From an employer’s perspective, many of the benefits associated with a conditional employment offer are associated with time. A conditional offer of employment gives an employer extra time to confirm the credentials and qualifications of an applicant. In instances of a conditional offer being based on a probationary work time requirement, it gives an employer flexibility to get to know an employee, see if they work well within the existing team and if they can fulfill the work duties. Employers can also hire more rapidly with conditional job offers. 

2. Consent to dig a little deeper

As many of the conditions that usually need to be met in conditional offers require sensitive personal information of an applicant to be gathered. This means you’ll get to know a lot about your prospected employee. This benefit is important for roles that require an employee to take on sensitive tasks or handle sensitive information for a company.

3. The ability to revoke/withdraw the offer

Employers can withdraw or revoke a conditional job offer at any time. Usually, an offer will be revoked upon any of the conditions not being satisfied.

What is the disadvantage of making a conditional offer of employment?

On the flip side, there are also some disadvantages that come with making a conditional offer of employment. This usually comes down to the candidate given the offer. Here are some disadvantages of conditional employment offer. 

1. Failures in any one of the condition requirements

It is never a sure thing that the candidates you make an offer to will pass all the required recruitment conditions. Even if there is a candidate that is a great fit, with everything your company is looking for in experience and character, they can fall short on some of the conditions. It is important to make sure all conditions you set are realistic and more importantly do not risk any forms of discrimination

2. Processes behind certain conditions can take time 

Even though time can be your friend when making a conditional employment offer, it can also create some problems. If some of the processes behind meeting a conditional requirement take a long time, the candidate might find different employment during that time and decide, after all, they do not want to join your company. It could be the case also that in conditions that require multiple stages, such as background checks, a candidate might fail late into the recruitment process, causing instant withdrawal of the offer. This could mean you have to start the recruitment process again. 

What to look out for when drafting a conditional offer of employment

There are a few things to consider when drafting a conditional offer of employment. Generally, the information that should be divulged to an applicant is not much different from any other type of job offer letter. Here are some of the types of information that must be included:

  • Role-specific information including job title, role description, and duties
  • All important dates related to the offer of employment
  • Salary and Compensation breakdown (including employment benefits, mandatory and discretionary)
  • Company-specific information including company policies, culture, and any confidentiality requirements.
  • A statement of at-will employment (where that is permitted in the jurisdiction), and any termination or resignation policies if applicable.
  • A mechanism that shows all specifications have been read and understood by an applicant

On top of the general information, it must be made clear what the conditions are and what it means for an applicant in the meantime. Although it’s always important to have clear terms throughout any offer of employment, for conditional employment offers, ensuring clarity in your terms can save an applicant from any misinterpretations or from assuming any promises related to employment during the conditional period. Here are some things to consider when drafting the section related to the conditional offer of employment.

  • Relay any information for how any conditions that need to be met connect with the job position or company
  • Expand and describe each applicable conditional requirement
  • Outline what it means to meet each condition requirement
  • Outline what it means if any condition is not met by an applicant

As mentioned, one of the benefits associated with a conditional employment offer is that the offer can be revoked at any time by the employer. This, however, does not mean that any rejections proceeding with a conditional offer can be in breach of any labor laws such as based on a discriminatory feature. It is important for international companies hiring foreign employees to understand their obligations in the country they are hiring.

Horizons and conditional employment offers

If your company is looking to diversify your team with individuals from other countries, hiring a Global PEO like Horizons can help you make conditional offers of employment that fit the required market. Horizons is a leading PEO that specializes in all compliance and payroll matters when looking to expand your team internationally.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

The make a conditional offer of employment to a prospective employee means that there are certain pre-employment conditions that align with your company and the specific job role that they must meet to attain a full employment contract
If you are an applicant receiving a conditional job offer, it is always best to thank the employer, read through what the offer is, check what the conditions are and ask any questions on issues that are not clear.

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