I realise this is similar to existing questions, but it's got a slight twist to it (more around the legalities of the contract vs. accepting via email)...

I've received a job offer for Company A, but have a final interview at Company B this Friday. Company B's recruiter is aware of my situation (i.e. I received the contract for Company A yesterday) and as such, Company B have rushed through my final round for Friday.

TBH, Company B sounds like a much better fit and more interesting than Company A (plus considerably more money).

My question is - I have not signed any contracts with Company A yet, and am trying to delay this for a few days; if I were to accept the job via email (i.e. confirming in an email that "Yes, I confirm I accept this offer. I will sign and post the contract to you ASAP") and then wish to renege on it (i.e. because I have a contract from Company B), am I legally bound to Company A even though no contract has been signed....?

I'm in the UK if that helps.

Thank you!

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    Making a specific promise with every intention of breaking it is, regardless of law, dishonest behavior. You would risk losing the trust of anyone who finds out about it, including managers at Company B. – Patricia Shanahan Dec 7 '16 at 15:02
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    Also see this question - workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/45056/… – Moo Dec 7 '16 at 16:08

Your written acceptance of the contract in the email response is enough to bind you to it - under UK law (for questions on that you need to ask on the Law StackExchange site) the contract only has to be accepted for it come into force.

Accepting a contract

As soon as someone accepts a job offer they have a contract with their employer. An employment contract doesn’t have to be written down.


You accept it the moment you send that email.

If you arent sure about whether you will be honouring it, don't accept it - its as simple as that. Give the company as much grace as you would want yourself, they wouldnt commit to hiring you if they were considering a second potential candidate, so you should do the same for them.

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  • Thanks! To clarify - I have yet to send an email confirming acceptance. Worst (or best?) case, I will inform them the start of next week, and I see I have a one week notice period during my first month, so will work that out. Although it might be unethical, I'm obviously going to be looking for the best offer and role for myself - and both companies recruiters are aware of other options I have. – FarleyUK Dec 7 '16 at 15:18
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    @FarleyUK why not just ask them for some time to consider, that way everyone is on the same page - they've already picked you, they will probably give you a week to make a decision, especially if you keep them informed along the way. You don't have to rush into a decision - if they pressure you to, then that gives you an indication of the company that you didn't previously have, and may affect your ultimate decision... – Moo Dec 7 '16 at 15:20
  • Thanks @Moo - I've informed Company A I want some time to check through the Contract, and they are OK with that. – FarleyUK Dec 7 '16 at 15:22
  • @JoeStrazzere it means that you are contractually obliged to honour whatever you agreed to - this can be the verbal agreement of work (you work for us for £X.XX an hour for 38 hours a week), a written contract (such as in this case, where you are given a contract which sets out your terms of employment) or a statutory contract (if you are never given a written contract, a verbal contracts terms might be hard to prove, then the government sets out reasonable terms for employment, including min wage and notice periods etc). The UK is not an "at will" employment country. Contracts rule here. – Moo Dec 7 '16 at 15:55
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    @JoeStrazzere the gist of this question has been asked before - workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/45056/… – Moo Dec 7 '16 at 16:07

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