Difference Between Offer Letter and Employment Agreement

By in HR

Employee paperwork plays a pivotal role in shaping the relationship between employers and employees. Two documents that often stand at the forefront of this journey are the “Offer Letter” and the “Employment Agreement.” also referred as Appointment Letter and Employment Agreement. These documents, despite their similar-sounding names, have distinct purposes and implications in the employment process. In this blog, we’ll explain the difference between Offer Letter and Employment Agreement, exploring their purpose, contents, legal significance, and the vital importance of clarity and compliance in the employment journey.

Offer Letter: The Starting Point

Purpose and Function

An Offer Letter marks the beginning of the employer-employee relationship. It serves as an initial formal communication from the employer and to a prospective employee. Its primary purpose is to extend an invitation to the candidate to join the organization, outlining the essential terms and conditions of employment. Offer letters are usually sent once the candidate has been shortlisted and interview process has been completed.

Key Contents

Offer Letters typically include critical information such as the job position, offered salary, benefits, joining date, and overview of terms conditions of the employment. It can also include insights into the company’s culture, policies, and codes of conduct.

While Offer Letters express the employer’s intent to hire, they are not always legally binding contracts. The extent of their legal binding nature depends on several factors, including mutual acceptance and compliance with labor laws. We have covered this topic in detail in another blog, linked below.

Employment Agreement: Formalizing the Commitment

Role and Purpose

The Employment Agreement, also known as an Employment Contract, comes into play after the Offer Letter. It serves as a formal contract that solidifies the employer-employee relationship. It is recommended to use stamp paper for an employment agreement to increase its legal value.

Detailed Contents

Employment Agreement are comprehensive documents that outline detailed terms and conditions, such as the duration of employment, specific job responsibilities, terms of termination, confidentiality clauses, and any other legal obligations. They often reiterate information from the Offer Letter.

Unlike Offer Letters, Employment Agreement are legally binding contracts. They establish the rights and obligations of both the employer and the employee, and they must comply with labor laws and regulations.

Timing and Sequence issuing Offer letter and Employment Agreement

When Offer Letters Are Issued?

Offer Letters are typically issued after the employer has selected a candidate and both parties have agreed on the terms of employment. Prospective employees often have the opportunity to negotiate the terms before accepting the offer.

When Employment Agreements Come Into Play?

Employment Agreements are issued once the prospective employee has formally accepted the Offer Letter, and any negotiations have been successfully concluded. They mark the official commencement of employment and provide a more detailed framework for the working relationship.

The Transition from Offer to Employment

The transition from Offer Letter to Employment Agreement is a critical step in the employment process. It marks the shift from the initial invitation to join the organization to the formalization of the employment relationship.

Employers should consider having offer and employment agreements reviewed by legal counsel experienced in employment law or use a professionally designed templates as offered by eSahayak. Legal review helps ensure that these documents comply with labor laws and regulations and reduces the risk of legal disputes.

Protections Offered by Employment Agreements

Employment Agreements offer legal protections to both employers and employees. They establish the framework for the employment relationship, outline rights and obligations, and provide a clear path for dispute resolution.

Addressing Disputes and Discrepancies

In case of disputes or discrepancies, employers and employees should prioritize open and respectful communication. Addressing issues promptly and professionally can lead to mutually agreeable resolutions. Legal remedies, including mediation or litigation, are also available if needed.


In conclusion, Offer Letters and Employment Agreements are distinct documents that serve different purposes in the employment journey. Offer Letters extend an invitation to join the organization and provide an initial framework for employment. Employment Agreements formalize the legal relationship between employer and employee, outlining detailed terms and conditions.

AspectOffer LetterEmployment Letter/Agreement
Timing of IssuanceTypically issued before employment begins.Issued after the candidate has accepted the job offer and is about to commence employment.
PurposeOutlines the initial job offer, terms, and conditions.Formalizes the employment relationship, including detailed terms, conditions, and legal aspects.
Legally BindingGenerally not legally binding, as it’s a preliminary offer.Legally binding document that governs the employment relationship.
ContentContains basic information such as job title, salary, start date, and general expectations.Comprehensive, including specifics on job duties, expectations, compensation, benefits, policies, and more.
ModifiabilityCan be subject to change or negotiation before acceptance.Generally less flexible after acceptance, as it serves as a formal contract.
Nature of AcceptanceRequires the candidate’s acceptance to move forward.Acceptance implies the candidate agrees to abide by the terms and conditions outlined.
Indicative of IntentReflects the employer’s intention to hire the candidate.Reflects a mutual intent to establish an employer-employee relationship.
Use in CourtLimited enforceability in court as it lacks detailed terms.Strong legal enforceability in case of disputes or breaches.
DurationUsually applicable only until the candidate’s start date.Enforceable for the duration of the employment relationship, until termination or expiration.
Preparation and ReviewTypically prepared earlier in the hiring process and may not undergo extensive legal review.Carefully drafted, reviewed by legal experts, and often subject to negotiation.