Employer bound by mistaken job offer - The Partners of Haxby Practice v Collen
Published 19 January 2013
Ms Collen applied for a job as a practice nurse. The salary wasn’t revealed in the advert or during interview. She was offered the job by telephone and told that her pay would be £22,427. A letter confirming the terms would follow.
The letter (the written offer) set out a salary of£30,762. Ms Collen didn’t query it, later explaining that in her excitement the original figure hadn’t registered with her. When she started the job she was told that there had been a mistake and the salary was in fact £22,427. There were unsuccessful attempts at reaching a compromise and her employment terminated one month into the job. She brought a claim based on the higher salary.
The tribunal found in her favour and held that the employer was bound by the higher annual salary. This decision was upheld on appeal. The parties had agreed during the initial telephone call that they would only be bound once the written offer had been sent and accepted. And even if the offer made by telephone was effective, it had been superseded by the written offer and Ms Collen’s acceptance of that.
It’s worth noting that, had she accepted the written offer knowing that the figure it contained was a mistake, the outcome would have been different.