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Verbal agreements - binding?

Discussion in 'Personal' started by Professor Dumbledore, May 16, 2009.

  1. Professor Dumbledore

    Professor Dumbledore New commenter

    Morning All, hope everyone's well,
    Quick question. I've got an interview on Wednesday at a great school, and have got a contact internally who's been giving me a bit of information. Apparently, there was a teacher doing supply at the school but VERBALLY accepted a job elsewhere. However, now he's heard this job is available, he's rescinded the other place's offer and we think he's got an interview here. (I'm not 100% certain he's one of the other shortlisted candidates.)
    I'm just wondering how binding verbal contracts are. If I were a Head I'd be pretty annoyed at having to do the whole interview process again, and I'm sure it wouldn't do you a lot of good professionally. Any thoughts?
  2. I don't really understand why schools don't follow up verbal offers with a written offer ASAP. Then this sort of situation would be avoided.
  3. They could pursue the matter, and even charge the person who verbally agreed a contract for the whole process of having to conduct interviews again. Unlikely mind you.

    Some schools do have you to sign a contract on the day the offer is made.
  4. Verbal contracts are legally binding if they can be proven to have taken place, i.e. through witnesses. They are NOT binding if they cannot be proven. This is the case for walks of life, not just teaching.

    Personally I think its very unprofessional to back out of an agreement like the situation you have written about.

  5. chicabonita

    chicabonita New commenter

    When I was doing the PGCE two years ago, we were warned that if you verbally accepted an offer and later withdrew for a reason such as being offered another job (rather than a family emergency or other circumstance beyond your control), you would be 'blacklisted' by that local authority. They also said that if a HT found out s/he had offered you a job when you had already agreed to accept another one, they might withdraw the offer.
    I don't have any stories 'straight from the horse's mouth', but you'd hope that PGCE tutors wouldn't make this stuff up!
  6. Good Luck in the interview Prof D.
    My understanding is that a verbal contract is just that, a contract. If you break it HTs get very upset. So upset they may spread the news to other HTs in the area. Always assume that all the HTs in a LA tell each other all the dirt - even if they don't always tell the truth.
    As with all these 'rumours' the whole truth may not be what you hear. So don't be surprised if he is/isn't there at the interview.
    Incidently, I think the idea of a 'professional' having to give an answer to a job offer on the spot is wrong. We should be able to consider it for 24-48 hrs. No other 'profession' that I'm aware of has this practice.
  7. Professor Dumbledore

    Professor Dumbledore New commenter

    Mine told me that, too, Chica. Ah well, I was just curious. I didn't know whether it would either make him look unprofessional OR look really keen and dedicated to the school.... Doesn't matter anyway because I AM going to get this job! *please please!*
  8. Professor Dumbledore

    Professor Dumbledore New commenter

    Actually I had to smile. Some of you responded on the thread about the situation in my current school with the unfair interview process, etc. Anyway, as I mentioned there, the head guaranteed me a gleaming reference. The woman I know at this school made me smile because she told my mum they had been discussing my excellent reference in the staffroom. I'm really pleased actually, I was worried as the head at the new school and head at old school are good friends...
  9. chicabonita

    chicabonita New commenter

    Good luck!
  10. chicabonita

    chicabonita New commenter

    Good luck
    I'm sure I tried to post this before...[​IMG]
  11. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    It's long been my practice to tell candidates for a post they can go home or stay for the result if they want - the vast majority opt to stay and then I've always had a letter with the offer of the job to give them, so that they have the security of knowing it's a firm offer (it says 'subject to CRB etc') and so that the school is protected, because I make it clear that in accepting the written offer they're bound to it.
    Whilst people often say that you don't have to accept or decline on the day in other jobs, other 'industries' don't have the problems we have in teaching in England about recruitment, notice, etc and a candidate later giving 'backword' on a job means a huge and costly problem for the school and the possibility that children will be without a teacher next term.
    This is how it is in English schools and people who want to teach here have to abide by that.
    BTW - good luck, Dumbledore. I'll be thinking of you on the day!
  12. I think it is unprofessional to give back word and do know, personally of someone who accepted job A, was offered job B (same LA), gave back word on job A ... Head A caled Head B who withdrew offer!

    However, I would be concerned about the professional levels within the school that you are applying for
    This is appaling practice.

  13. bombaysapphire

    bombaysapphire Star commenter

    PD - my advice would be not to worry about this other person. Heads definitely talk to each other so this is likely to come back and bite him on the bum.
    Go to the interview and do your best. If it's the job for you then it will work out. Lots of luck.
  14. The key phrase to use is: "subject to contract". When accepting a job offer verbally I always add these words as it offers you the chance to back out if needs be. Remember that legally you should have a contract inside 45 days of starting a job. I also make a point of ensuring a contract is prepared and I have signed it before resigning from my current job. This also hurries up your new employer if you tell them you can't resign until you have signed the new contract. They won't want to lose you on resignation deadline day when you phone them and withdraw because there's no contract to accept so the you are withdrawing your acceptance of the job.
  15. Good luck on Weds PD, I've got an interview then too so we can both be nervous together.
  16. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    I did this with my first ever post. After missing out on several jobs I was offered a post. The HT proffered his hand and as I shook it said I accept subject to a suitable salary in the contract (i those days they didn't/couldn't tell you how much they were going to pay you! The Ht said that he thought I was not able to put that proviso in but I assured him that if the job offer did not havea slary that I could support my family on then I would not be accepting it! As it happened, after some negotiations with the LEA I was offered a salary on point 9 of the old 11 point scale. I would not have accepted an offer below point 5 on the scale.
  17. Honey Loop

    Honey Loop New commenter

    I didn't know this. I started in January and I'm still waiting for my contract.
  18. One school who offered me a job straight after the interview did say if you need time to think about it and talk to your husband then that's fine. Not that I needed the thinking time! But it was good to have it.
  19. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    Or else what? If you've started and don't get your contract within 45 days, what are you actually going to do?
  20. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    A verbal offer and a verbal acceptance of said offer constitute a binding contract, even if there is no witness. To then accept another job is breaking your first contract.
    After all, suppose the school rang you, offered you the job, you accepted, then 3 days later they rang and said "We've just met another teacher who we like better than you, so we are withdrawing our ioffer to you and giving the job to her instead. Sorry for any inconvenience".
    You'd be on the phone to your Union in seconds!
    So verbal contract is a contract. A written letter of offer also has contractual force, and you also have proof of it, so it's having that in your hand which should give you the confidence to resign from your current post.
    Having the written contract, with the statement of employment particulars, before you hand in your resignation is not always feasible. Often it is not the school but the HR Dept in County Hall that issues those, and as, by law, they do not have to do this until 2 months after you've started work (i.e. October half term, for a September start), they are not geared up to producing them fast.
    Nor do they need to, if the written offer letter has the main details such as post, grade and salary, since it does have contractual force. You are safe with that letter, no need to insist on the contract.
    As for other employment sectors not insisting on immediate replies, that is true. But it is also true that, unlike teaching, they do not have only 3 resignation dates and thus 3 appointment deadlines to meet.
    A school has gone to the expense and effort of advertising and
    interviewing. It offers job to candidate A. If A decides after a few
    days to turn it down, then they offer to B. But alack! alas!,
    candidate B in the meantime has accepted another job offer...
    This is what schools fear.
    schools will offer the job by phone that evening or the next day, and
    expect an immediate answer to allow them to rush an offer to B if A
    turns it down. Some schools offer on interview day in the flesh, and
    expect an immediate answer. I know of several schools who put a
    written offer letter in front of the candidate and get them to sign an
    acceptance there and then! have done it myself.
    The very most that a teacher could hope for
    would be 24 hours to think it over, I'm afraid. And you should be
    aware that some schools actually ask you at interview if you would
    accept the job if it were offered you. (The correct answer is: Yes, subject to satisfactory contractual arrangements).
    Best wishes to all JobSeekers.


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