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Why firms make U-turns on job offers and your legal options – Business Daily

‘‘I did not get the job but at least my passport photos looked cute,’’ tweeted Immaculate Kikalamu, a Ugandan national, last week.
Ms Kikalamu chose to dwell on the positive side of her failed attempt to get hired, obviously as a consolation. The post was an instant hit on Twitter, generating more than 87,000 likes.
For Kyla Milligan, a pastry chef, her offer was withdrawn for what she says was her employer’s discovery from her Instagram account that she makes cakes for her family and friends. ‘‘They couldn’t hire me for what they saw as direct competition from my venture,’’ Ms Milligan protested.
Nowadays, it is normal for people to rant on social media about the rescission of their job offers even after successfully going through the recruitment and getting their appointment letters.
So, why would an employer withdraw a job offer? Are candidates protected by labour laws against such unexpected moves? How should you proceed after an offer is cancelled?
Grace Nzula, a human resource practitioner at the Institute of Human Resource Management (IHRM), says an employer is likely to withdraw a job offer if they discovered damning information about the candidate after completion of the recruitment.
‘‘Some employers do not run background checks of the candidate until after they have hired them. After conducting such scrutiny, they may discover that the person lied about their qualifications and experience,’’ she explains.
A candidate with either fake academic papers or a past criminal record also risks their offer being withdrawn, she adds.
In some instances, conflict of interest is a red flag for an employer, where a candidate is discovered to be involved in activities that are in direct competition with those of the new employer.
A candidate may also lose a job offer even after confirmation in the event the person who was leaving the organisation decides to stay on. ‘‘Many organisations would choose to work with someone they already know than gamble with a stranger.’’
Ms Nzula notes that the most common reason given by organisations for withdrawal of job offers is budgetary constraints.
‘‘Some organisations work based on forecasts. If the reality of business is different from what had been projected and they discover they cannot compensate the candidate as agreed, the reasonable thing to do is to cancel the offer.’’
The HR manager admits that some organisations engage in recruitment without proper plans in place, which often leads to ‘over-hiring’.
‘‘If you get your numbers wrong out of lack of planning or over-planning, you may soon discover that you hired more talent than you needed. Those who may not have reported for work are usually the first casualties.’’
Change in the socioeconomic and political environment of the country may also precipitate the loss of an offer. ‘‘Some organisations will hire people hoping for a particular outcome from say, an election, for different reasons. If the result is different from their expectations, they are compelled to offload.’’
Still, some freeze hiring until after an election. A report by Corporate Staffing Services in July this year showed that most Kenyan businesses had suspended recruitment until after the polls. Consequently, some candidates had their starting dates pushed forward or their offers rescinded altogether.
While some factors are beyond the control of the hiring organisation, Ms Nzula says the candidate can prevent withdrawal of an offer by disclosing all information about themselves.
‘‘In most cases, recruiters know each other. When you say you worked at a certain organisation and it turns out to be false, you are likely to lose the offer. Just tell whole the truth.’’
She observes that change in company strategy and structure could also lead to cancellation of an offer if the new strategy format does not accommodate the position for which one had been recruited.
Losing a job offer is a low moment for a candidate, that often comes with a flare-up of emotions, pain and regrets. Ms Nzula says it is a slippery space to navigate for both the candidate and the employer.
‘‘Labour laws in Kenya recognise employer-employee relationship once an offer has been accepted. Even if you had not started working, it is assumed that the relationship had started. If the offer is withdrawn before the acceptance, however, there is nothing much to do than get disappointed,’’ she says.
In the event an offer is suspended after the acceptance, she says the organisation is obligated to compensate the candidate based on the termination clauses.
‘‘You can sue an organisation over an implied contract and even demand for damages. An employer ought to give a notice before withdrawing an offer. They might also need to pay you off for a month’s notice.” 
In case of fraud, however, she says an employer is not obligated to give a notice. She adds that an employer may be ordered to rehire the person should a court of law determine that the termination was not done procedurally.
‘‘Where an offer is cancelled, employers should practice the ‘‘H’’ in HR which is humanity and be gentle to the aggrieved person. In keeping with the best HR practice, the organisation may compensate you for your feeling of loss, which is by their discretion. This is, however, not covered in labour laws.’’
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Joseph Muongi

Financial.co.ke was founded by Mr. Joseph Muongi Kamau. He holds a Master of Science in Finance, Bachelors of Science in Actuarial Science and a Certificate of proficiencty in insurance. He's also the lead financial consultant.