“I didn’t get the job but at least my passport photos were cute,” Immaculate Kikalamu, a Ugandan national, tweeted last week.
Ms Kikalamu chose to dwell on the positive side of her failed attempt to get hired, obviously as a consolation. The post was an instant hit on Twitter, generating over 87,000 likes.
For pastry chef Kyla Milligan, her offer was withdrawn for what she says was her employer’s discovery from her Instagram account that she bakes cakes for her family and friends. ‘They couldn’t hire me for what they saw as direct competition to my business,’ Ms Milligan protested.
These days, it’s normal for people to rage on social media about getting their job vacancies canceled even after they’ve successfully recruited and gotten their appointment letters.
So why would an employer withdraw a job offer? Are candidates protected by labor law against such unexpected moves? How to proceed after the cancellation of an offer?
Grace Nzula, a human resources practitioner at the Institute of Human Resource Management (IHRM), says an employer is likely to withdraw a job offer if they discover damning information about the candidate after recruitment is complete.
”Some employers don’t do background checks on applicants before hiring them. After doing such a review, they may discover that the person has lied about their qualifications and experience,” she explains.
Conflict of interest
A candidate with false academic papers or a criminal record also risks having their offer withdrawn, she adds.
In some cases, the conflict of interest is a red flag for an employer, when a candidate is discovered to be involved in activities that are in direct competition with those of the new employer.
A candidate can also lose a job offer even after confirmation in case the person leaving the organization decides to stay. “Many organizations would choose to work with someone they already know rather than play with a stranger.”
Ms. Nzula notes that the most common reason organizations give for withdrawing job offers is budget constraints.
”Some organizations work on the basis of forecasts. If the business reality is different from what was projected and they find they cannot compensate the candidate as agreed, the reasonable thing to do is to rescind the offer.”
The HR manager admits that some organizations engage in recruitment without having proper plans in place, which often leads to “overhiring”.
“If you get your numbers wrong through lack of planning or over-planning, you may soon discover that you’ve hired more talent than necessary. Those who may not show up for work are usually the first victims.
The evolution of the socio-economic and political environment of the country can also precipitate the loss of an offer. “Some organizations will hire people hoping for a particular outcome of an election, for example, for different reasons. If the result is different from their expectations, they are obliged to offload.”
Yet some freeze hiring until after an election. A report by Corporate Staffing Services in July this year showed that most Kenyan companies had suspended recruitment until after the elections. As a result, some applicants have had their start dates pushed back or their offers rescinded.
Although some factors are beyond the control of the recruiting organization, Ms Nzula says the candidate can prevent the withdrawal of an offer by disclosing all information about him.
”In most cases, recruiters know each other. When you say you worked in a certain organization and it turns out to be wrong, you risk losing the offer. Just tell the whole truth.”
She observes that a change in strategy and structure of the company can also lead to the cancellation of an offer if the new format of strategy does not adapt to the position for which one has been recruited.
Losing a job offer is a difficult time for a candidate, often accompanied by a surge of emotions, pain and regret. Ms Nzula says it is a slippery space for both candidate and employer to navigate.
”Kenyan labor law recognizes the employer-employee relationship once an offer has been accepted. Even if you had not started working, it is assumed that the relationship had started. If the offer is withdrawn before acceptance, however, there is nothing to do but be disappointed,” she says.
In the event that a bid is suspended after acceptance, she says the organization is obligated to compensate the candidate based on the termination clauses.
”You can sue an organization for an implied contract and even seek damages. An employer must give notice before withdrawing an offer. They might also need to pay you a month’s notice.”
In cases of fraud, however, she says an employer is not obligated to give notice. She adds that an employer can be ordered to rehire the person if a court determines that the dismissal was not carried out in accordance with the procedure.
”When an offer is rescinded, employers should practice the ”H” in HR which is humanity and be gentle with the aggrieved person. In accordance with HR best practices, the organization may compensate you for your sense of loss, at its discretion. However, this is not covered by labor law.”