What is An Offer Letter?

What is An Offer Letter?

I decided to look into What an Offer Letter is because of its enormity and relevance in the employer/ employee relationship.

What is An Offer Letter? An offer letter is a formal document provided by a Company (employer) to a candidate (employee) selected for a job position. It is of great importance at the point of employment and thereafter. The Offer letter is a legal document and must be treated as such.

The Offer Letter is expected to contain:

  1. The Name of Company making the offer;
  2. Names and address of the Employee;
  3. Date of Hire
  4. Nature of Employment (Contract, temporary, permanent etc);
  5. Job designation;
  6. Job description
  7. Probationary period
  8. Notice period (with reference to Section 11 of the Labour Act)
  9. Annual Leave (Leave days and allowances)
  10. Days of duty / Hours of Work etc
  11. Date of Expiration (if Contract)

Please note that some of the conditions that apply generally to staff may be found in the Staff Handbook when there is one.

As a young man, I had accepted an oral job offer because I was desperate to have a job! Know that this is not an agreement. At the final interview, after all, negotiations, I was told that the Human Resources Manager would give me an offer letter on resumption. When I resumed duty, I requested for this and was told it would be printed out. I spent years there and could not get the offer letter. Even after the probationary period of six (6) months, it was not given. I pursued same until I was tired. This was not supposed to be so.

The Nigerian Labour Law is clear on that and says that when a hire is made, the Employer is required to provide an employment contract setting out the terms and conditions of employment within three months of the commencement of employment.

You needn’t mistake the Offer Letter for Appointment Letter. The two appear to be the same but they are not. The Appointment Letter is a proof of appointment that the Employee has accepted the terms and conditions of employment as specified by the Company and he/ she is willing to be engaged.

To the Employee, the document contains the legal deeds transferring some rights and obligations to the organization

Moreso, to the Employer, she believes that they are spending money and time in the executive search activities and therefore she must have her ROI.

My Opinion:

You must be careful in accepting and signing the Offer Letter as it should be well verified. On having an Offer Letter from a Company, you should have a quiet time with yourself so as to critically analyze the content therein. Some offer letters can be demanding and life-frustrating. I remember one accepted by one of our footballers to travel abroad. Out of inexperience, desperation and haste to travel out as a professional, he got it all wrong. In the end, what was supposed to be something joyful, turned out sorrow as the offer was more of an enslavement.

Where issues are not clear, the employee is expected to ask questions for clarifications, and where and when it is not satisfactory, consult a Lawyer.

First, you must be able to look at and visualize the reward(s) therein should you accept the offer. What are the benefits both in the short and long run? What is in there for you – what is the reward system like?

Secondly, are there risks involved? I was most particular about this because I never wanted to be out of a job. This is where you must be extra objective and careful: should anything happen, for one reason or the other and you lose the job, what happens? Will there be terminal benefits? How stable is the Company and what is the internal politics like? Most of the answers to these questions can be researched.

Thirdly, what will be the responsibilities inherent in the position on offer? Will you be provided with the right conditions and atmosphere to do the job? Will the Company provide you with the right tools for the job? What is the reporting line like? What would you learn therein and will you be better off than you came if you accept the offer?

Before responding to the job offer, accepting same, these are facts that must be objectively verified and confirmed right.

I am sure with these, you now understand what the Offer Letter is and criteria to be met before accepting an offer. I will not advise you to take up a job without first having and holding the Offer Letter – be it permanent or on contract. The Offer Letter is a critical factor in accepting an employment.


This piece was contributed by Agolo Uzorka (Vice President, Eugene+George Consulting.


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