The other day a client asked me to review a job offer letter
before it was sent. I had lots of
a new employee and protecting the employer from creating an enforceable
employment contract or false expectations.
This may be one of the first documents that an employee sees so it
should not be scary but it should include clear information to set the groundwork
for a productive employment relationship and confirm necessary details. Include these items in your job offer letters:
date; if the person has not given you a start date because they have not
yet given notice you don’t need to include one but make certain that the
letter follows a standard business letter format and is dated.
spelling of all names.
bonus eligibility; this may include any guaranteed bonus amounts.
agreed upon deviations from regular policy such as vacation; “As we
discussed you will be taking an unpaid vacation from August 4 through
August 8, 2008.”
employment at will statement. This
is the language that says the employment relationship is not a contract;
the employee can quit or be terminated.
statement that the employee will be covered by all applicable benefits or
policies. If there are any benefits
deviations such as, “The Company will reimburse you for your health
insurance coverage through COBRA from your former employer until you are
eligible for our plan on
for the employee to sign and return a letter.
- Benefits plan details that can change during the
course of employment. A letter should just say the employee will be eligible
for company benefits.
- Eligibility for performance evaluations and
reviews that result in an increase if raises are not guaranteed at a set
- Specific hours of work for a non-exempt
employee. This could create the impression
that the job should be overtime eligible.
- Incorrect information such as the wrong salary,
or a name misspelled.
- Reporting relationships that could change during
the course of employment
- Promises of a bonus if it is not guaranteed.
Don’t say “plus a bonus of $500.” Do say, “plus a bonus of $500 at the
discretion of the company if X,Y & Z are met.
- Promises of any other benefit if they are not
- Promises of a benefit that the plan does not
allow such as early enrollment in a 401(k) or health benefit plan. Before committing to anything like this check
the plan carefully.
and returned keep a copy in the employee’s personnel file. If there any raises, bonuses or benefits are promised
you may need this to clear up questions.