The Rundown on Conditional Job Offers

Posted: June 19, 2022

After sorting through hundreds of resumes and interviewing countless applicants, it is a huge relief to finally find your ideal candidate. As you get ready to send out an offer letter, you realize that you haven’t run a background check on the candidate yet. What happens now? Good news – you have the option of sending the candidate a conditional letter of employment that requires them to pass a background check prior to their start date. 

Given the fast pace of today’s job market, many of our clients are wondering if extending conditional job offers is a good idea or not. While historically we may have advised against conditional job offers, they may be necessary in today’s fast-moving labor market, especially since background and drug tests checks are currently being delayed by courthouses, legislation, supply chain challenges and numerous other factors. However, we advise that a candidate should not begin work until all requirements have been met.

Here is the rundown of the advantages and disadvantages of conditional job offers.

What is a conditional job offer?

A conditional offer of employment is a formal communication outlining an offer of employment that is dependent on the applicant adhering to certain requirements prior to starting the position. Conditional job offers are commonly used for full-time positions, contract positions, or internships.

Reasons for Sending a Conditional Job Offer

Here are common reasons for extending a conditional job offer:

  • Background check results – One of the most common reasons for an employer to extend a conditional job offer is that they are waiting on the results of an applicant’s background check. Many employers use third-party background check companies, and this process is currently taking up to a few weeks or even months. Many employers just can’t afford to wait this long to proceed with the hiring process.
  • Health screening or drug testing results – Many employers will extend a conditional offer of employment while they are waiting on an applicant to pass drug tests or a pre-employment physical examination.
  • Credit checks – A conditional job offer might be extended while an employer is waiting on an applicant’s credit check to be returned.
  • Reference checks – Many employers will contact a candidate’s references after extending a conditional job offer.
  • Licensing requirements – a conditional offer might be given while an employer is waiting on a candidate to fulfill certain licensing requirements.
  • Relocation – A contingent job offer might be extended while an employer waits for candidate to successfully relocate to a specific location.
  • Eligibility to work in a country – A conditional job offer might be extended while an employer is confirming an applicant’s eligibility to work in a certain country.

Advantages of a Contingent Job Offer

Here are a few advantages of contingent job offers:

  • Conditional job offers help prevent employers from losing out on top candidates in a rapidly moving labor market.
  • Conditional job offers help keep the momentum moving through the hiring process.
  • If an employer must rescind the offer based on a candidate not adhering to the requirements, there will be lower risk of ending up ending up in court.
  • Once a candidate accepts an unconditional job offer, it is binding, whereas a conditional offer of employment gives the employer flexibility if the applicant fails to meet the requirements of the offer.

Risks of Contingent Job Offers

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, conditional job offers can be somewhat risky for employers – if the offer is rescinded, the applicant has the legal right to review the results that led to the decision. If any of the information is found to be false or shows signs of discrimination, the employer can potentially be held liable for it.

  • The conditional offer will be rescinded if an applicant is unable to meet the conditions of the contingent offer or is unwilling to meet the requirements. Employers may need to reaffirm that the conditions are realistic, so they don’t miss out on strong candidates.
  • There are risks for job applicants upon accepting a conditional job offer. For example, job applicants should carefully consider if they should resign from their current position until the requirements of the conditional offer are met. 
  • It is essential that employers understand the legal risks of rescinding a conditional offer, or any job offer for that matter.

Best Practices for Contingent Offers

  • It is essential that all candidates being hired for the same position undergo the same exams and testing.
  • It is a good idea to set a deadline (usually around 14 days) to complete the requirements outlined in the conditional job offer letter. Note that if the conditions aren’t met, the offer may be rescinded.
  • It is necessary to outline all requirements and deadlines in the conditional offer letter so they will be clear to the applicant and the employer.
  • It is a good idea to consult legal counsel before establishing hiring procedures relating to conditional job offers.

For more information on extending conditional job offers or regarding other hiring practices, please contact us at (877) 360-4636.

Please consult with qualified legal counsel when considering using offers of conditional employment.