Have a conditional job offer but need to retake exams due to your mental health?

Graduate employers sometimes make job offers on condition of securing a certain final grade, such as an upper-second (2:1). If you need to retake your exams it can be confusing to know what to do.

In this instance, the employer may not be technically discriminating against you by withdrawing the job offer as the conditions of the job offer have not been met. To avoid this happening, it is best to have an honest conversation with the employer to explain your circumstances and try come to an arrangement that enables you both to move forward

Be clear about what you want from the conversation as the employer maybe understanding and flexible, for example if you can still start the job on the original agreed date or a later date. Focus on finding a solution that works for both the employer and you as this focus will help towards ensuring a positive outcome for everyone involved.

Your preparation for having this conversation may vary according to whether you have already told the employer about your mental health condition or not. If this is the first time you are discussing your mental health condition, there are resources available to help you do this. You may also want to consider how your mental health condition will impact you at work, as the employer may well ask.

Before you have this conversation, it is worth taking the following steps:

1) Get clarity on whether your mental health condition is classified as a disability under the Equality Act 2010:

  • There must be a substantial (more than minor, not trivial), adverse impairment in relation to daily activities.
  • The difficulty should be long term (has lasted or may well last 12 months).
  • The cumulative effects of a mental health difficulty may combine to render its total effect ‘substantial’.
  • Difficulties that are episodic in nature are covered, if they are likely to reoccur.
  • A person who has recovered from a mental health difficulty also remains protected by the Act if the difficulty is likely to reoccur.
  • A person does not need to show that the adverse effects impact on any particular capacity (e.g. memory or concentration).

2) Be clear about what support and adjustments you will may need in the workplace so you can discuss with the employer as appropriate. If you are unsure, think about the adjustments and support you had during your studies as a starting point, and as appropriate share with the employer. If your mental health challenge is classified as a disability then legally your employer has an obligation to make reasonable adjustments to support you.

3) Write down why you want the job and key points you made about yourself in the application process (including interview). This will help you reassure the employer (if needed) that you are strongly motivated for the job and have a lot to offer.

4) Arrange an appointment with your career service before you speak with the employer so you can clarify and get feedback on what you want to say. You can also book an appointment after you’ve spoken to the employer to discuss your next steps.

– Christian Jameson-Warren


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