General Question

Charles's avatar

How would you back out of an accepted job offer?

Asked by Charles (4815points) April 6th, 2012

This has to happen often. So, if you accepted Company A’s offer but while waiting the couple of weeks to start the Company A job, you received a better offer from Company B, how would you work this with Company A?

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10 Answers

missingbite's avatar

Honestly. Tell company A you got a better offer and are going to take it. It’s business. They may step up and match the offer.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, circumstances and situations can change overnight and there is nothing “personal” about choosing the better option presented. I’ve gotten really good at this over the years, just say ” I’m sorry but my situation has changed and I have decided to go with another offer. Thank you for your interest in me and best wishes in finding a good fit for your company.”

Ya just gotta be bold! :-)

blueiiznh's avatar

Just know that Company A is a brdge you more than likely will be burning.

Once you make your choice on the change, you have to stick with it. Do not look back and never regret it.

Lightlyseared's avatar

If you have accepted the offer from company A and then you back out then you may be liable for breach of contract. The cost of advertising and hiring someone can be quite high and it is not unheard of for companies to sue people who do this in order to try and recoup their expenses. The best way to get out of it without leaving yourself open to this is write a formal acceptance letter of the job and in the same letter give your notice effective from the first day of employment. Most companies will instantly withdraw the offer as it’s not worth the effort of inducting you into the company if you are only going to be there for four weeks or whatever and because you have demonstrated you were willing to start work they can’t get you for breach of contract.

JustPlainBarb's avatar

Since most employment is “at will” .. and if you haven’t signed a contract .. you can back out at any time .. just as they could rescind an offer at any time.

Best idea is to remain as professional as possible and just be honest. It’s business and not personal .. so a reputable company would understand that you need to accept the best offer possible .. just as they want to hire the best person for the job.

Call them and tell them your situation and tell them you appreciate their offer, but you will have to decline. They certainly don’t want an employee who doesn’t want to be there.

srmorgan's avatar

I am not a lawyer. This comes from many years of HR experience.

When you accept a job offer there is no legal obligation on your part to actually start the job and no legal obligation to show up the next morning or the day after that.

The employer can not force you to work for them. That is called involuntary servitude and was outlawed by the passage of the 13th, 14, and 15th amendments to the Constitution.

That being said, a company could theoretically sue you for damages incurred by the company due to your not starting your job, The chances of this happening are infinitesimal and pointless.

Their costs related to advertising a position, interviewing you or anything else related to the hiring process is their problem, not yours. They can not recover those costs from you.

They can’t give you a bad reference, why would you supply them to anyone as a reference.
@blueiiznh correctly points out that you are burning a bridge behind you and if you are in a small and insular industry that could be a minor issue down the road. Unlikely.

I accepted a job offer once on a Monday, interviewed somewhere else the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, got the offer the day after Thanksgiving and had to call the other employer on Monday to tell that they I would not be showing up. The second offer was a little more to my liking. Smart move, I stayed there for 19 years and the other place, a law firm, dissolved within the next year.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Just to be clear the advice I gave above came from a lawyer who makes a tidy living out of just this sort of crap. People do get taken court for this sort of thing although it does tend to be mid and high-level positions more often than low level and the costs of recruitment are recovered.

The involuntary servitude argument defence is a joke if you think about. For example once you have the job you could argue the employer can’t force you to come to work everyday as do so would be involuntary servitude. They’ll just fire you don’t turn up when you’re supposed to. You could argue you don’t have to pay your mortgage repayments because it’s involuntary servitude. But if you don’t the bank will take your house. Just because you can’t be forced to do something doesn’t mean there won’t be consequences if you don’t.

srmorgan's avatar

@Lightlyseared OK, given your point about being sued for not showing up on your first day of work.
In order to pursue a successful lawsuit, you have to prove that you (the company) has incurred damages and have some way of enumerating and evaluating those damages. I don’t see how you do that when a candidate who has accepted an offer reneges on that offer.

As to involuntary servitude: there is no way that anyone can “make ” you work for them. If you don’t show up on the first day or abandon your job the employer simply will not pay you.
They can’t make you show up.

Now if you are an independent contractor you have a contractual obligation to perform the duties outlined in your contract, but again, if you fail to do so, the company will not pay you and will attempt to hold you to the termjs of the contract..

But in an employee-employer relationship, the employer’s only remedy for incompetence or failure to appear is to terminate the employment relationship.

whiteliondreams's avatar

There are many great answers here that I would have never thought of the implications on forfeiting an offer. I wouldn’t have even considered the level of the occupation or profession as being a factor in a potential suit. I suppose verifying what the terms of your application or contract state are a start.

nurjanna_bairola's avatar

how to back out? being a cleaner?

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