A well known MNC is asking me to sign their appointment letter way too early before the actual joining date. They sent me an offer letter which I signed because offer letters are generally informal agreements. Within 24 hours of accepting the offer they sent the Final Appointment letter that mentions date of joining, induction venue, salary structure, leaves and literally everything that should be there in an employment contract. They want me to sign this too in next 48 hours.

But here is a catch. The offer letter email specifically mentioned this:

>Please note that this Offer Letter is a non-binding conditional offer letter and becomes binding upon issuance and acceptance of the final Appointment Letter by you.

What does this binding essentially mean to me? As far as I knew the appointment letter should be signed on the date of joining and not before that. If I sign this now, will the company have any hold on me? What would be the legal problems I may have to face if I sign it and don't join the company later? Or, the company backtracks and doesn't give me joining? All these questions are giving me sleepless nights and please note that I have yet to put my papers and serve the entire notice period. If I sign the letter now, will that mean I am bound to join the company? Please help, I need to decide this in a day.

The offer letter or the appointment letter themselves don't talk about any consequences if joining doesn't take place for whatever reasons.

Thanks a lot in advance.

From India, Delhi
Dinesh Divekar
Business Mentor, Consultant And Trainer
Labour Law & Hr Consultant

Dear Aman,
I think you are really serious about undertaking a paid-employment. By signing or accepting the offer letter though it is non-binding, you would have understood from its contents that once signed and returned the subsequent appointment letter, you cannot back tract from joining. This condition mentioned earlier in the offer letter before the issuance of the appointment orders would have given you a reasonable opportunity and sufficient time to decide. During the interregnum itself, you also would have enquired about the company and your future prospects therein as a new-joinee. I don't think that there is any hard and fast rule about the time and occasion of issuing an appointment orders.
Therefore, once signed and returned the appointment letter, you should join without fail and the prospective employer can sue for damages in case of your failure and the same thing impliedly apply to the employer, if he back tracts.

From India, Salem
Thank you sir for your guidance. To be clear- the offer letter or the appointment letter themselves didn't carry any condition like that. It was just mentioned in the email. Does that still account to legal action? What are my options to come out of it? And help myself in case such unfortunate things happen in future?
To be honest, while accepting the offer letter at their portal, the things I gave more importance to was the contents of the offer letter and kind of overlooked that statement in the email.


From India, Delhi
Dear Aman Agarwal,

A company can very well issue the Appointment Letter well before the candidate joins the company. Since the companies do not wish to issue the appointment letter, a via media has been found out by way of the issue of the offer letter.

If the company issues the appointment letter well before the candidate joins the company, it shows that the company is serious about the candidate's candidature. Nevertheless, I find that the candidate is hesitant. What exactly is your hesitation? Which terms and conditions of the appointment letter do you perceive to be troublesome? Is it that this company has not followed the norm of the issue of the appointment letter after joining, has the hesitation been born out of the departure from the general practice?

Many candidates complete the entire recruitment procedure, take the offer letter but back out from joining the company. This puts the company in a difficult situation. By issuing the Appointment Letter, your future company has tried to foreclose this possibility.

If you are serious about joining the company, then, I recommend you stop thinking unnecessarily. Complete the notice period and join the company.


Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore
Thanks Dinesh ji for your insights. My hesitation is regarding the company backtracking on my appointment later on. In the last 1-2 years, I have cleared interviews in three similar MNCs in the past and they have backtracked on their offer and just stopped responding to my calls, emails etc. This kind of experience puts me in a very defensive phase in my career. The company with their legal team will always have an upper hand(if I don't join post acceptance) and me as an individual can't even think of taking a legal course(if the situation is reversed).
Don't know what to do now.


From India, Delhi
Dear Aman,

What if the company backs out from employing you? Your concern is valid. I recommend you read each clause of the appointment letter thoroughly. If the clause on not honouring the joining date is not included then you may inform the HR Department to do that. The liability to both parties should be in equal measure.


Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore
Joining date is there for sure. But if company wants not to let me join, they very well can. Can I help myself in any way(through any communication or getting some explicit clause added in the letter) to make the case stronger so that they can't (or at least think twice) backout?
From India, Delhi
Apologies, I misinterpreted the joining date honouring part. I don't understand what that means as a company. Regarding the joining date, only two things are mentioned:

1. The date of appointment is effective from the date of joining which is <Joining Date>, unless otherwise communicated in writing by the Company.
2. By accepting this form, I hereby confirm that I have read and understood the employment terms and conditions, I shall be reporting for duty on <joining date>.

From India, Delhi

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