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October 06, 2010


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We did have a situation where the bonus plan in the written offer did not match what my husband was told. We were lucky in that when my husband called the company to discuss it, they revised the offer letter and Fed-Exd it right away. I did make me nervous though because it made me not trust them from the start a little bit.

No question, people need to get these things in writing. Everything, such as salary, bonuses, vacation time, etc - should be in writing. If something was promised or half-promised on the phone or in person, but it's not in writing, you're out of luck.

I have always obtained such letters in the past.

Unless you sign a true "contract", most employment offers are not binding. Companies can cut salaries, benefits at will. Look at all the companies who, during the recession, cancelled 401(k), cut salaries, made their employees take unpaid furloughs. My point is that a written employment offer has no meaning anyway. Therefore what is the point of "get(ting) everything in writing"?

I agree with the last part. My current company decided that my bonus would be cut 50% from what I had thought I was due.

I cannot find anything in writing that I am even scheduled a bonus in my written offer, so I have NOTHING to find out what it really is. I heard and remember that it was higher..I used a head hunter and they would not even discuss with me the problem.


MBTN, i wouldn't go as far as saying it has "no meaning". i agree with your point, but a written contract strengthens your case and protects you from events such as that you mentioned without rhyme or reason. i.e. a company cannot isolate you and cut your numbers or they can be in for trouble. i agree that it is not the end all, but it does matter, psychologically and practically.


There is a distinction between a written _CONTRACT_ and a written _OFFER_. What the original article and FMF are talking about is a written offer.

A contract means that the parties are legally obligated to abide by the terms. If you or your employer break the contract, you have legal recourse.

An offer has no legal meaning. An employer is free to cut your salary, cut your bonus, or whatever. They can't get into trouble. Most states have "employment at will" which basically means that they can do whatever they want "without rhyme or reason". They CAN "cut your numbers" and they won't get into trouble. On the flip side, you can leave whenever you want for whatever reason.

The only exceptions are if they discriminated against you (i.e. fired you because of your race), or if you have an explicit contract (which is not what an offer letter is).

Some of the offer letters that I have gotten will even have a legal disclaimer reminding you that this isn't an contract and employment is "at will".

If an employer can fire you at any time, then what is the point of getting an offer in writing, other than to give you a false sense of security?

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, so my comments are worth what you paid for them!

I couldn't agree more. If it's a big deal, not only should you bring it up and get it settled...but it NEEDS to be in writing. Without it in writing, they can always change what they orally promised to you.

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