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Can I ask a potential employer to add a point in their offer letter explicitly stating that the offer made by him/her shall not be revoked or if he/she could specify the only circumstances under which the offer can be revoked? 

This is solely due to the fact that there has been a significant loss of employment and lots of offers are being rescinded with the pandemic ongoing. Therefore, such an assurance would help me in being certain about my offer. 

My employer is a researcher who wants to take me as a research intern. The offer is international. I am Indian and the researcher is British.

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    And what will you do if they put this point in and then revoke the offer anyway? – Tymoteusz Paul Aug 9 at 6:44
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    As an intern, you have no leverage. They can find another intern. Asking them to lock themselves into something they're not comfortable with, will risk them deciding to find one who isn't going to make such demands. Still: if they've made an offer, knowing that the pandemic is happening, it is reasonable to assume they're not going to suddenly withdraw it for that reason. But they will want to be able to end the internship for any other legal reason (as for a normal internship) and will not want to get tied down by a contract unique to you, that might be used to prevent them from doing that. – BittermanAndy Aug 9 at 9:22
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    @BittermanAndy That should really be an answer. :) – Lilienthal Aug 9 at 9:53
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    “the offer is international. I am indian and the researcher is british” — does the offer involve you moving to Britain? Are you concerned you could move, incurring all the expense and upheaval, and then after a couple of weeks have the offer rescinded? – Paul D. Waite Aug 10 at 9:40
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    @PaulD.Waite: I added "involving international relocation" to the title. The standard thing would be asking the company to front/directly-pay/front-reimburse the travel booking i.e. when you/they book it, before you even travel. – smci Aug 10 at 12:54
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No, they will not agree to that, because even they can't predict what is going to happen.

Your best course is to talk with the recruiter/hiring manager directly and try to get a feel for what is happening. Also, while many pre-COVID internships are being rescinded, I would expect that a company willing to offer one now expects to be able to keep their word.

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    "I would expect that a company willing to offer one now expects to be able to keep their word." I've seen companies do a lot worse than that, so what is this based on? – Mast Aug 9 at 16:47
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    @Mast: The fact that companies usually don't waste time and money on finding interns if they don't intend to go through with the internship? – Heinzi Aug 9 at 19:10
  • Re: "I would expect that a company willing to offer one now expects to be able to keep their word": Possibly, but it can also happen that different people in the company have different information, such that the person who's tendered this offer doesn't know that there's about to be a hiring freeze and outstanding offers rescinded. (Of course, in such a situation, the person who's tendered this offer wouldn't have the authority to honor an agreement like the OP is requesting, anyway!) – ruakh Aug 10 at 22:08
  • @ruakh Obviously there's no guarantee (that's kind of the whole point of this question), but it's a reasonable expectation. – lambshaanxy Aug 11 at 3:31
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Can I ask to explicitly state that the internship offer cannot be revoked in their offer letter?

Of course, you can ask, but it's not a good idea.

  1. First of all: it's pointless. Even if they agree, any statement like this would not be enforceable. There is no legal mechanism that could force them to hire you anyway.
  2. The question and following negotiation may strain your relationship, creating questions about your attitude and judgement.

There is nothing to gain and potentially something to lose.

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    There's no legal mechanism to force someone to hire you, but you can write legal penalties (usually some monetary payment) for breach of contract if specific terms aren't met into a contract. This is actually quite common, though definitely not for work contracts for interns. For example, at least here in the U.S., when someone selling a home accepts an offer to purchase it, it's customary for the offer to include some money that the would-be purchaser forfeits if they change their mind and walk away from the deal before closing. – reirab Aug 10 at 9:49
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    Sorry, that feels naive to me. No company in their right mind would EVER sign something like this and even if they did, how you would enforce payment if they simply refuse to pay up? A lawsuit across different countries sounds like a really bad idea: they can easily drag it out for years and make it may more expensive to you than the money at stake. So maybe it's enforceable "in theory" but "in practice it's really not. – Hilmar Aug 11 at 12:56
  • I completely agree that a company wouldn't write something like that into a contract for an intern (and I said as much,) but stuff like that makes it into other contracts on a regular basis. For cases where people have much more leverage (successful CEOs of large companies, successful sports coaches, etc.) it can and does happen regularly. It also happens regularly for large business acquisitions. Such clauses are common in cases where one side is leaving an existing lucrative position, incurring large expenditures, or rejecting other offers on the promise of a contract being fulfilled. – reirab Aug 11 at 19:01
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Can I ask my employer to confirm upon one another point explicitly in the letter which states that the offer made by him/her shall not be revoked or if her/she could specify the only circumstances under which the offer can be revoked.

You can ask for anything.

But don't be surprised when the answer is "No". I don't know any employers of interns who would write such a letter. When I employed interns, I certainly never would.

You would be better off talking with the employer, and with past interns to see how things have worked out in the past, knowing that the future is more unpredictable than you would prefer.

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After you've accepted the offer, you should receive a contract. The contract should specify your pay, hours, and other conditions of employment. That is the point at which the employer is unlikely to cancel the offer and at which people normally start declining other opportunities, incurring costs etc.

Since this is an international offer I would suggest you check whether they offer administrative and/or financial help with the visa. That provides another point at which the whole thing may collapse - if you are refused a visa for any reason, including errors or unreasonable reasons.

Note that most contracts, especially internships, include provisions for early cancellation if the employer feels they have made a mistake in hiring you. I've known someone who was made redundant a week into their job.

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    I'm not sure if an internship counts as employment in the UK. When an internship is arranged as part of a formal education, the school may be a third party to an internship contract. – MSalters Aug 10 at 10:53
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    In the UK, most contracts (internship or not) include a 3-6m 'probation period' with reduced notice. – Dan W Aug 10 at 15:07
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I agree with others here that the employer won't give you a contract saying "we'll never cancel this contract" (and if they gave you one saying "no party will ever cancel this contract" you may have a problem). In addition, I have a suspicion that the employer agreeing to not cancel the contract is maybe not what you actually need: what if it's not your prospective employer who cancels the contract but their government decides to not let you in (not even with quarantine)?

So instead, find out what the actual, precise practical problems are, and then think about solutions - first yourself, then together with your prospective employer:

  • their economic situation? Not much you can do about this - but they presumably know what they are doing, and the situation is not that new any more for them. You did your homework about the employer's reputation, did you?
  • your financial risk of eating the cost of plane tickets etc.? There are ways to greatly mitigate those risks: e.g. a combination of travel insurance and flexibility about the start date can go a long way here.
  • ...

So IMHO it does make a whole lot of sense to talk to the prospective employer how various situations will be handled.

  • If they reimburse you for the relocation, either have them book your flights or have them explicitly tell you what you should do in terms of travel insurance, how long in advance you're supposed to book etc..

  • If all the costs of the relocation are up to you, consider whether the internship is worth while for you if those costs go up significantly, e.g. you have to quarantine at home and while the travel insurance you took out reimburses you for the unused ticket, booking the next flight when you get released from quarantine* will likely be more expensive. If the internship is not worth while under the risk of such elevated relocation costs, politely cancel your application now.

    If you think it unlikely but not impossible, talk to them how such a situation will be handled:

  • I think you may ask them how flexible they are in terms of your start date with the example scenario of you needing to quarantine before leaving (could you go for the cheaper flight "in 4 days" instead of the very expensive one "tomorrow" when you get out of quarantine).

  • You may consider booking your flight so that you can do a 2 week quarantine in the UK. In case that quarantine is not required, could you start work 2 weeks early? Or would they prefer you starting 2 weeks later in case you have to quarantine even though that is not a requirement now when you book the flight?

  • Do you have your visum already? If not, take care of this asap. Having the visum will mean one uncertainty less.


* You may not rely too much on being released from quarantine after exactly 2 weeks. E.g. if meanwhile a new member of your household develops symptoms, the quarantine clock may be reset, and/or release from quarantine may also be bound to negative PCR tests after the quarantine period.

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Others have pointed out that there is nothing for you to gain in the request. An unethical company could just add that to their offer letter and how would you enforce it if they did decide to revoke the offer.

Others have speculated that you do not have any leverage in this situation. That may or may not be true. If you did have leverage, you should ask for a signing bonus that can not be clawed back in the event they revoke the offer.

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    The OP can ask for anything, including a signing bonus or a brand new Tesla as a company car or a penthouse office with personal secretary; but this is an internship. Asking for such things will achieve nothing more than giving a hiring manager a good laugh before they file the application carefully in the bin. – BittermanAndy Aug 9 at 17:32
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    I'd love to hear the story where an intern got a signing bonus. – Voo Aug 10 at 8:50
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    "you should ask for a signing bonus that can not be clawed back in the event they revoke the offer" This is exactly what would be reasonable, except regarding the relocation allowance not a "bonus". The company will not be surprised that relocation arrangements will include expenditures which are non-refundable, so such a request is not likely to count against the applicant. – Ben Voigt Aug 10 at 16:25
  • @BittermanAndy It is not worth worrying about being laughed at. Maybe the best thing that could happen to OP is for the application to be binned. It would certainly be better that than to have the offer revoked after OP has paid nonrefundable relocation expenses. – emory Aug 11 at 1:40

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