How can you tell if a job offer - is binding or nonbinding?
December 17, 2014 4:27 PM   Subscribe

Without having to ask HR directly, I am wondering if a job offer is binding or nonbinding.

I got a job offer which denotes the annualized salary and offer of the position. In order to respond to the job offer, one must follow up on a link filling out personal identification information for payroll services. At the bottom of the link is before I sign off is: "By digitally signing this you acknowledge that your on-line consent is equivalent to a binding legal signature. And By digitally entering your legal name, you acknowledge that your on-line consent is equivalent to a binding legal signature."

So my question is, if I were break this offer - how would I know what the consequences are? And is the binding portion of this digital signature just to let the company know I am going to commitment to them and accept the salary and position?

I have heard that unless the consequences for breaking the offer are written out, then I would be subject to financial penalty. However, there are no consequences scripted out in this document.
Since I would like to protect my privacy and the company, but am short on time - I won't be too specific on all the details. Anyone can PM directly. THANKS a bunch for any insight
posted by proficiency101 to Work & Money (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: However, there are no consequences scripted out in this document.

You've answered your own question.

A "binding legal signature" does not inherently "bind" or "commit" you to do anything. It means you agree to whatever you are being asked to agree to. If there's nothing in that agreement that prevents you from/penalizes you for later declining the job offer, then you didn't agree to anything of the sort.

I realize that many people view legal agreements as magic incantations, but they actually do mean what they say.
posted by saeculorum at 4:39 PM on December 17, 2014 [12 favorites]

Having known and heard of people who were made offers, hauled their families to the location or passed on other offers, only for the employer to change their mind / lose funding for the position / excuse for not hiring goes here, I would say if you have a real concern about this, you'll need to talk to a lawyer because it depends on your country and state.

But it really sounds like they're just inserting text that says "your on-line signature is as good as a paper one, so that you can use this web form instead of mailing in something or signing it in our office."
posted by zippy at 4:42 PM on December 17, 2014 [6 favorites]

I am not a lawyer, but it sounds like to me that means that you are agreeing that your digital signature is treated the same as a paper signature. I also think, unless you're at a super high level, the legal language on offer letters is usually just to require that you acknowledge and agree to what they've outlined, and maybe that you have presented truthful and accurate information during the interview process.

If there is no penalty or clause for early termination or anything like that, what could they possibly do if you decided not to accept the job? I really wouldn't worry whatsoever.
posted by AppleTurnover at 4:48 PM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Your digital signature means that you acknowledge and accept whatever you are digitally signing. In this case you couldn't say "I was promised $XXX,000 a year." They could point to this document and say no, you accepted our offer of $YY,000.

If there are no consequences described, then it's hard for me to imagine there are any consequences for backing out after digitally signing. I'm not a lawyer though, so grain of salt and all that.
posted by pseudonick at 5:20 PM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Nthing that it's just that your digital signature is the same as your ink signature.

Unless you're going to be the CEO or something.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:30 PM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

IANAL but I am reading it the same as others. It's just saying that signing online is the same as a paper signature. You're not like, signing with blood, you're just acknowledging that you're accepting the job with the terms (salary, etc) outlined in the offer.
posted by radioamy at 8:08 PM on December 17, 2014

IANAL, but I work in a regulated industry that uses electronic signatures, and I agree that it's probably boilerplate denotation of your electronic signature as the equivalent of a written one. The language closely resembles text I've seen in several electronic signature policies.
posted by Gelatin at 5:43 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

We had a similar thing with our lease since we were renting from afar. Agreed with posters above that this is exactly the sort of language used in the emails, and all it meant was that our signature in their digital lease program was legally equivalent to if we had signed the lease in person, with ink. So, basically if this is a document you would feel comfortable signing "in ink," I think you're good. If it's not, then you need to investigate more before signing.
posted by rainbowbrite at 6:33 AM on December 18, 2014

Which state will the job be at? Several states are "at-will" employment states, which basically means that there cannot be a binding employment offer.
posted by ethidda at 1:30 PM on December 18, 2014

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