Offers of employment are legal documents that spell out the mutual expectations between employers and prospective employees. Unlike contracts, offers of employment generally have no predetermined termination dates. There are certain elements that always need to be included in offers of employment:
Name of employee – The letter needs to be clearly addressed to the person being offered employment.
Start date – The letter will state the start date of the employment.
Compensation – Compensation may include a yearly, monthly, weekly, or hourly rate of pay. It can also include other forms of compensation such as stock options, commissions, bonuses, and car allowances. If overtime pay is offered, that needs to be stated clearly. Other forms of compensation include holiday pay, sick pay, annual leave, medical and dental insurance, and life insurance. The nature of the compensation is limited only by the imagination of the parties to the agreement.
Title and Reporting Relationship – This is self explanatory.
Responsibilities and Objectives – Every offer needs to define the responsibilities of the employee. That can be done by listing those responsibilities in the letter of employment or by referencing a job description which is attached to the letter. Interestingly, most job offers do not include statements of objectives. Quite likely the reason objectives are omitted is that they are likely to change during the term of employment.
Policies and Procedures – Employers usually obligate their employees to adhere to the policies and procedures documented in their manuals written for this purpose. Since companies change their policies and procedures from time to time, employers commit to advising their employees of updates to these manuals. Including a current copy of these manuals is optional. Today, these manuals are often maintained online. The offer of employment only needs to provide the web address of the company’s policies and procedures.
Office based or virtual – For the last century, employees were required to report to an office, factory, mine, or ship to do their work. With the widespread adoption of the Internet, a growing number of employees are allowed (even encouraged) to work virtually from a location of their choosing. The offer of employment needs to address this issue specifically.
Acceptance of the offer – Prospective employees are generally given a few days to consider the offer and accept the offer. If the candidate does not accept the offer within the specified time frame, the offer is automatically withdrawn. The details of the acceptance of the offer must be specified within the offer itself.
Name and signature of authorized hiring agent – In large companies, it is nor uncommon to find that offers of employment come only from an authorized HR officer. In smaller companies, hiring managers often draft and sign offers of employment. In any event, the letter needs to be signed by someone the company has authorized to make such offers.
Letters of offer of employment can be as short as one page or as long as 10 pages or more.