Can an offer letter can be revised after signing it? In short, yes, it can. There are very rare times where an offer letter, also known as a letter of intent, would be binding upon a professional. I mean, it would need to explicitly state that the terms of the offer letter are binding. And normally, in that case, it would be something in academia and it would be much more detailed than just a normal employment contract. I can’t recall a time where an offer letter said it is binding with an employment agreement to follow that would also be binding. And there are several reasons why most employers don’t do that. Well, first, from the employee side, when you receive an offer letter, it’s going to break down the basic terms of the employment relationship.
The compensation, productivity, bonuses, maybe the length of the term, how long the contract lasts, how it can be terminated, maybe some of the benefits, malpractice insurance, if necessary, the restrictive covenant, non-compete, non-solicit, non-disparagement confidentiality. It’s basic terms. An offer letter normally is a page or two at the most, whereas a normal employment agreement is at least 20 pages and could be longer than that. It’s just basic terms. Now, if you look at basic terms and you say, you know what, that’s a great salary. I’m okay with that. And maybe it just says it has a non-compete but doesn’t have the actual terms. And then you agree to sign the offer letter, but then when you get the employment agreement, having some context provided, having some specific language provided, could really change from a contract you thought would be great to cannot be not so great.
And let me give you an example. Let’s say, in the offer letter, it says, yes, there’s non-compete. But it doesn’t have any terms. Then you look in the actual employment agreement and the non-compete lasts for three years and a hundred miles from your primary practice location, sales territory, or whatever, well, that job where the comp looked great, maybe the benefits look great, well, if the non-compete is going to force you to move from your current community, that may be a deal-breaker for some people. Maybe you can go back to them and say, hey, I’d like the terms of this non-compete reduced. This is not what I was expecting. It’s much more restrictive than normal. And for me to feel comfortable signing this agreement, we need to change these terms.
Now, the terms may not have been in the offer letter, but you want to get the terms changed obviously before you sign the employment agreement. What if they say, no? Let’s say, they say, no, we’re not willing to change the terms of the non-compete. Well, then you could go back to them and say, I know we already agreed to base salary. However, if I’m going to accept the terms of this non-compete, it’s not worth what I agreed to originally, it’s worth a hundred thousand more for me to agree to this. And so, although we came to an agreement on the base salary originally in the offer letter, I’m not okay with that now, I’m not going to accept that now. And if you want me to sign this employment agreement, we’re going to need to make changes to the compensation structure. That’s fine. They may be upset, they may be ticked off, but when you’re going to do something like that when you’re going to kind of come back at them and renegotiate terms of already negotiated terms that were listed in an offer letter, you need to provide context and reasoning for why.
And the non-compete is a good example. I didn’t have the terms of what it would be. Now that I see those specific terms, I’m not okay with it. And this is the reason why I want changes to other things. I think any savvy employer is going to understand, okay, well, I mean, that makes sense. Now, they may not be willing to make any changes. And as I said before, they may be a little upset that you’re coming back at them, but I would never suggest that a professional should ever sign an employment agreement with terms they’re not willing or comfortable with just because they signed an offer letter and agreed to terms of an offer letter. Unless it says it’s binding, it is not binding. You can still negotiate terms even though you signed the offer letter. And even though you negotiated them originally. It is much better to tick off an employer and maybe reach terms than to just accept terms you’re not happy with.
I mean, if you go into a job and you feel like you’re not being compensated properly, or you are really concerned about one of the restrictive covenants, most people don’t last that long in those types of positions. You want to feel good going into a new job. If you don’t feel good even if you’ve signed the offer letter, don’t go through with taking on the new job and starting a new position.
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