Two Sides of the Story

by Mar 15, 2010California HR Services & Consulting

We recently hired an employee who now claims to have received a generous vacation package from her hiring manager when she accepted the job. Unfortunately, the manager is no longer available to confirm or deny that. She’s a good employee and we’ll probably give her the benefit of the doubt in order to keep her. How can we avoid this in the future?

We always encourage recruiters and hiring managers to follow up a verbal offer of employment with an offer letter. These do not need to be complicated or filled with “legalize,” but they should contain the following information in order to ensure everyone is“singing from the same hymnal:”

1 – Welcome the individual to the company noting their title, who they’ll report to and the starting date. Note the address the candidate should report to for the first day of work.

2 – Be specific about the rate of pay, noting it by the hour for non-exempt employees and the pay period for exempt employees rather than just an annualized salary. Sometimes an annual salary may be construed as a promise of employment for an entire year. Many employers also note the first payday since it’s ofprimary interest to the candidate and his/her family. You may also want to add a sentence about total targeted earnings including a bonus plan.

3 – Outline briefly the general benefits the employee will be eligible for and when. You may state this as simply as, “Youwill be eligible to participate in our medical, dental and life insurance programs after 90 days of employment. You will be eligible for our 401k program after 6 months of employment.”This is the place to note any exceptions to any benefit eligibility package including vacation, sick leave or severance agreements. This does not need to be a laundry list of everything in your employee handbook, just the basics and any exceptions you may need to refer to at a later date.

4 – Remind the new employee of the requirement to bring identification in order to complete the I-9 form on the first day of employment.

5 – Always, always include a statement noting that the employment is “at-will” and explain what “at-will” employment means, i.e., “that you or the company may end your employment relationship at any time with or without notice.”

6 – If you require a physical examination, including a drug test, you will want to note that the offer is contingent on the successful completion of a physical examination and where and when the candidate is to have this done.

7 – Give the candidate a specific number of days to sign the offer letter and return it to you. Five days is usually adequate for this. You may wish to hold on the regrets to the other top-qualified candidates until you have a firm acceptance from this candidate.

The famous Holiday Inn slogan “The best surprise is no surprise” holds true in many employment issues as well. Documenting an offer is another step in being professional and clear in your initial dealings with the candidate. It will serve as an effective reference tool before, during and after employment.