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Backing out of a job offer

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by PeterQuint, May 15, 2019.

  1. PeterQuint

    PeterQuint Lead commenter

    I was offered a job yesterday, it’s in a school but is a non-teaching role.

    I came home to find I have an interview for another job I’d applied for, and which I’d prefer.

    What are my potions?

    I suspect that, if I were offered this second job and told the first school that I’d changed my mind, that’d be wrong, but that the school would be unlikely to take any actual action.

    Any advice/knowledge?
  2. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    Your potions ? - only you can answer that one.
  3. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    Did you firmly accept the first job? I'm guessing you wouldn't be asking if you hadn't.
    Two ways to proceed. You weigh up the pros and cons of each job and make a quick decision. However, of course, you haven't actually been offered the second job yet!
    Alternatively, you remind yourself that your word is your bond, and that once you do somehing you make the best of it and don't spend life looking round corners for something better
    Only you can decide that - I'm not having you blaming me for the rest of yourt life for bad advice.
    My potion at this time in the morning is black coffee..
  4. Bedlam3

    Bedlam3 Star commenter

    Put yourself first. Accept the first job just in case and then if you get offered the second job give back word to the first. It's only a phone call - just be apologetic and make up an excuse like "my personal circumstances have changed, I'm very sorry". What is right for you is what counts.
    BelleDuJour, bevdex, Matt994 and 5 others like this.
  5. foxtail3

    foxtail3 Star commenter

    A verbal acceptance of a post is binding for a teacher, so far as I am aware. It may be different for non teaching staff; I don’t know the terms and conditions.

    What if you aren’t offered the second job? What happens if the second school offers the job and the first school complains?
    PeterQuint and Lalad like this.
  6. Lalad

    Lalad Star commenter

    You know your options: you need to weigh up the possible consequences.
  7. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    If you accepted the first job, you do have a contract, but I think that calling them now to say you realise that you have made a mistake would probably be acceptable. In my opinion, keeping the first school waiting until you know about the second is not acceptable, just as you would not like it if an employer rescinded a job offer because somebody better came along. That is a moral judgement, and I know there are people who would disagree.

    There have been arguments about whether somebody can give in their notice before starting a job so that they don't have to start, such as a teacher under Burgundy Book terms deciding not to start their September job and giving in notice by 31 May. I am not sure what the legal truth behind this is. My own view is that it should not be allowed, as it protects employees against their new employer changing their mind. But that is just my opinion.

    From the practical point of view, if you break your contract at the first school, they would be allowed to take legal action against you for any cost to them. That might be the cost of redoing the recruitment process, which would go from nothing if they can convince an unsuccessful candidate from the first job to take it to quite a bit if they have to advertise and interview again. Whether this would happen is anybody's guess - I doubt if it happens often. Although perhaps they might just send you a bill and threaten legal action if you don't pay.

    Of course, you could come clean with the school where you have been offered a job. If you were the only acceptable candidate, they might agree to wait for a firm decision. My daughter was in this position when looking for her first job, and did just that, only she had not already accepted the job. They agreed to give her a few days to hear back on other jobs, which did not materialise, and she is not working at the original employer.

    Whether this might be considered an acceptable reason for rescinding a job offer I don't know. However, some people, including me, would be wary of somebody whose has broken a contract.
  8. coffeekarma11

    coffeekarma11 New commenter

    Some years ago a school made my contract permanent. Four weeks later ( and after I turned down another job) they reversed their decision and in lieu of the contract gave me a term contract. I had been their just under two years and the unions stated that was all they were obliged to do. On my final week they asked me to continue working for them a half day on Tuesday. I politely said I had other work lined up. Point is they will still have a list of other candidates most non-teaching roles in schools have more applicants than teaching roles. There are reasons why people don't start jobs things change. It is ironic that it is wrong for a teacher to pull out, but a school can do what they like.
  9. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    I think the same rules apply to employers and employees. Before somebody has been employed for two years, both can give their contractual notice to end the contract. So, no job can really be considered permanent until then.After the two years is up, the balance switches in favour of the employee, as the employee can only be dismissed with good reason, but can give notice to leave any time they like.
    border_walker and PeterQuint like this.
  10. PeterQuint

    PeterQuint Lead commenter

    And what do you consider those consequences to be?
  11. PeterQuint

    PeterQuint Lead commenter

    Presumably the notice for the first job is the end of this month.
  12. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    As I said, I am not sure if you can give notice on a contract which has not already come into effect. If you can, then the notice period will be whatever is stated in the contract. But if this is possible, then a school could employ a teacher for September, and then change their mind by 31 May, possibly leaving the teacher without a job. Not good!
    JohnJCazorla and PeterQuint like this.
  13. PeterQuint

    PeterQuint Lead commenter

    Thanks everyone.

    Giving the backword on a job is the very last thing I’d ever want to do.

    But over the last few years I’ve seen some pretty underhand tricks played on staff (myself included), and I have little doubt that the vast majority of schools will do what they think they can get away with.

    I’m at an age where I need to be thinking about myself.

    Hopefully it won’t come to it.
    mothergoose2013 likes this.
  14. catbefriender

    catbefriender Lead commenter

    Good luck whatever you decide and I hope that the school you are interested in working in, offers you the job and does not get a phone call from the school you may have to decline and I also hope you do not suffer putting your needs first.
    PeterQuint likes this.
  15. Deirds

    Deirds Senior commenter

    Was the job you were offered the one you applied for?

    I once accepted a different non-teaching role to the one I applied for. I was put on the spot on whether to accept or not. I was given the wrong information about the role - definitely would not have accepted it had I been given some crucial information.

    I made the best of it for a year and then left.

    I would not make that mistake again.

    I don’t think you should be bound by a job change.

    If the job is what you applied for then that’s different.

    On the other hand, if you do have to accept it some non teaching roles have short notice periods....
    agathamorse and PeterQuint like this.
  16. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    If you get the second offer for the job you really want, you can tell the first school that you’re very sorry but you won’t be able to take up the position. Make up something polite if you wish.

    You may technically breach your ‘contract’, but the likelihood of the school having the time, money and inclination to pursue the matter legally is zero.
  17. PeterQuint

    PeterQuint Lead commenter

    That’s pretty much what I thought.
    Pomza likes this.
  18. AnotherDayTowardsRetirement

    AnotherDayTowardsRetirement Occasional commenter

    I’ve been in a similar position to the OP. My attitude is one of ‘put yourself first’ in all contractual dealing with any employer, schools included. Seen schools take too many liberties with staff so I’ve toughened my personal stance to ‘every man for themselves’ over the years.

    In the past I have applied for more than one job (3) at the same time, been invited to interview in all 3 schools which I accepted (on the basis I was not sure I’d get any of the jobs!), was offered the job at the first interview I attended and accepted ‘as a safety net’ in case I did not get the other jobs. I then attended the other interviews and was offered another job, which I accepted because I felt it was a better school/role than the other job offer.

    I then told the 1st school my circumstances had changed (which technically they had) and rescinded their offer. They weren’t happy and complained to my current Head but nothing was done, no legal action, no threats. Absolutely nothing was done. My current Head spoke to me about the ethics of accepting 2 jobs but took the attitude that I was leaving his school anyway and the matter said simply one of my own conscience. He gave an excellent (fair!) reference.

    I’ve seen schools offer temp staff a renewed/extended temp contract but on less money and increased inflexible hours. I’ve also seen a school rescind a full time job offer a day before resignation date because their planned 6th Form courses didn’t run due to poor uptake. My attitude is that schools are happy to think ‘sod staff’ so my ‘every man for himself’ rule does not seem misplaced.

    Be strong & do whatever is right for you in the circumstances at the time. As paternalistic HR is replaced by a harder, more pragmatic ‘business’ HR in schools more and more staff seem to be mirroring this trend via their own hardened resolve.
  19. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    PeterQuint likes this.
  20. PeterQuint

    PeterQuint Lead commenter

    The situation has now 'resolved itself'. I've rescinded the original offer BEFORE knowing if I'd get the other, as when I thought about it, it was rubbish anyway

    I've changed a few facts (as always) for purposes of anonymity.

    I am in a position of applying for a variety of both teaching and non-teaching roles. They way things are going, with jobs appearing and interviews offered thick and fast, I suspect the situation may recur.
    JohnJCazorla, Piranha and agathamorse like this.

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