Welcome to your new position.
A firm stranded a paralegal without a job during the pandemic when it rescinded its offer after he had already resigned from his old position.
'Leo' took a telephone interview with Fletchers Solicitors on the first day of England's lockdown in March, and he explicitly checked that the pandemic would have no impact on the firm's recruitment plans and his role. When Fletchers reassured him it would not and that business was "continuing more or less as usual", Leo accepted the offer.
But at 5.20pm on Friday 1 May, the week before his new job was due to start, Leo received an email from Fletchers notifying him that his start date had been pushed back to June, "providing no explanation as to why".
After several attempts to call the firm, Leo finally reached someone who told the anxious lawyer his postponement was because "established team members" who would have supported his induction had been placed on furlough, but that "this is a delay, not a retraction of the offer".
Approximately every fortnight after that, Fletchers emailed Leo to say that it was unable to provide a starting date, but "every time they speculated that it might be the month after". He said the firm consistently mentioned that the offer "is not going to be retracted".
On 15 October, after almost six months, the offer was retracted. Fletchers offered to give Leo one week’s pay as a goodwill gesture.
Leo had already handed in his notice, and his employer told him it was unable to reverse the process and that he would have to re-apply as an external candidate when it unfroze its recruitment program, whenever that might be.
"In other words, Fletchers Solicitors made me quit my job and then left me without a job during the worst time for the economy, essentially leaving me with no income for 6 months", Leo told RollOnFriday.
"I cannot describe the anxiety I have suffered during this period", he said, describing how he scoured the job market after being left in the lurch.
A spokesperson for Fletchers Solicitors said that, “like many businesses around the country", it had been "faced with decisions which could not have been foreseen during this global pandemic".
"We have had to monitor changing external influences on an almost daily basis" and "have had to adapt our workflows and review our structures during the pandemic, but we still wanted to honour the original job offer", it said.
However, “after several months of monitoring and reviewing the situation, we felt it best to withdraw our offer of employment as there were no indications that things would return to a pre-COVID-19 state".
"We fully understand and regret the disappointment and difficulty this has caused him: it was not a decision we took lightly and we have apologised directly. This is an isolated situation caused by specific issues and certainly not how we usually conduct recruitment.”
Happily, in the last few days Leo managed to secure a new position, which he said was "a much better one than the one at Fletchers".
If you're facing employment hardships during the pandemic which are affecting your wellbeing or mental health, consider contacting LawCare.
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