Real-Time HR is a series of real questions we receive that are then answered by qualified HR experts in the field. We publish these questions and answers to our blog to give readers accurate, timely information about trending HR topics.

What should be included in an offer letter?

Answer from Wendy, PHR:

The offer letter should outline the expectations and benefits of the job and provide explicit details about compensation. Ideally, it provides the candidate with all the information they need to make an informed decision about whether to accept the job or not. A standard offer letter generally should include:

  • Job details, including job title, supervisor name, supervisor title, start date, work location, full or part time (and expected number of hours per week), and whether it’s exempt or nonexempt. You could include a full job description as an attachment for their review;
  • Contingencies such as passing a drug screening and background check prior to the start date;
  • Compensation, including base pay rate, pay periods, and any bonuses or commissions they are eligible for;
  • A brief overview of benefits and a timeline of when they become effective. You can include an attachment with additional details, including coverage and costs;
  • A statement that this is at-will employment (unless it’s not); and
  • Instructions on how to accept the offer and any applicable deadlines.

This Q&A does not constitute legal advice and does not address state or local law.

Wendy has over 20 years of experience in HR and talent acquisition. She has been writing and talking about HR for 5 years and was an HR podcast host for 4 years. Wendy has a BA from the University of South Dakota. In her spare time, she makes artisan ice cream and volunteers with her daughter’s Girl Scout troops.

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