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How to properly write a promise to hire?

Before the execution of the employment contract, you may need to write a promise to hire to formalize your future work relationship with a hired candidate. Is it an obligation? How should it be drawn up? What does the law say about the signing of this document and in the event of retraction by one of the parties? Everything about the promise to hire!

What is the purpose of a promise to hire? 

Although not mandatory for the employer, the letter of promise to hire is often useful when a future employee who has just been recruited is still on the job or in the process of resigning. Containing certain necessary information, it acts as a pre-contract and can be attached to a letter of resignation. It allows the candidate, as well as the employer, to be assured of the future assumption of duties.

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What information should be included in a promise to hire?

📜 The mandatory mentions:

  • the type of hiring contract: cdi, cdd, professionalization contract...
  • the duration of the contract for a fixed-term contract
  • the date of hiring
  • the position
  • the remuneration

📜 Other information: 

If not specified in the promise to hire, may be specified in the employment contract:

  • working hours
  • the collective agreement
  • the trial period
  • the place of work

⌛ The deadline

Formulating a deadline for the expiration of the promise to hire is important, especially in the event of a retraction by one of the parties! You will understand better in a few lines...

📝 To finish your letter

Don't forget the famous "good for agreement" note, asking the future employee to return the dated and signed promise to hire to you.

Offer of employment contract VS promise to hire

Since September 21, 2017, the legal concept of "promise to hire" has been abandoned by the social chamber of the Court of Cassation, to leave 2 options for the employer wishing to make a hiring proposal: the offer of an employment contract or the unilateral promise of an employment contract. 

  • The offer of an employment contract is the act by which the employer proposes a commitment to the candidate, specifying the job, the remuneration, the starting date, the working hours and the place of work. It expresses the will to be bound in case of acceptance. 
  • The unilateral promise of employment contract is a little different in the sense that the employer promises a commitment on these same elements and it is equivalent to an employment contract. This means that the promise can be reclassified as an employment contract (if all of the above elements are present). The employer is more committed by writing this type of letter and the consequences are stricter in case of withdrawal.

What happens in case of withdrawal?

In the event of an agreement between the employer and the candidate

In the case of an offer of employment contract as well as a promise to hire, both the candidate and the employer can retract or provide for a conditional hiring with retraction clauses: conditional on obtaining a diploma, new markets, etc.  If the condition is not met, the promise to hire becomes null and void.

In case of non-compliance by the employer 

In the case of an offer of employment contract, the employer may retract the offer as long as the beneficiary has not received it within the acceptance period. If the candidate considers the withdrawal to be abusive, he or she may still try to obtain damages by invoking extra-contractual liability.

In the case of a unilateral promise, withdrawal after the expiry of the time limit is considered as a breach of the employment contract and therefore as unjustified dismissal. Unless the employee initiates a dismissal procedure invoking a legitimate reason, the employee may refer the matter to the Conseil des Prud'hommes in order to obtain damages, including compensation for notice.

In case of withdrawal by the candidate

The candidate may also withdraw from signing an offer of employment contract as a promise to hire. On the other hand, if the candidate refuses to sign the employment contract after signing it, he or she can be sued by the employer and pay damages.

makesense and the promise to hire

To tell you the truth, at makesense, we are rather against the drafting of this kind of document. For us, the promise to hire is like an employment contract, it contains the same information and takes us just as much time to complete. As soon as we have a new recruit, we write and send him/her a contract of employment to make everyone feel secure!

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Sample letter of promise to hire

First ask yourself: are you writing an offer of employment or a promise to hire?

Company XXX

First name Name of representative

Position (HR, etc.)


Postal code + City 

First name Employee's name


Postal code + City 

 Registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt n° [XXX]

At [place], [date]

Subject: Promise of employment

Dear Madam / Sir,

Following your interview on [date of interview], we are pleased to inform you that your profile has been selected for the position of [name of position] with a [employment contract: permanent, fixed-term contract, etc.].

As such, we offer you a [monthly/annual] gross salary of [amount of salary] for a weekly working time of [hours worked per month].

You will work at [location], starting on [start date].

You are free to accept or refuse this offer of employment and have a period of [length of period] in which to inform us of your answer.

If you do not reply by [deadline], your silence will be interpreted as a refusal of the proposed employment contract.

In case of acceptance, we thank you for sending us the present document signed and preceded by the handwritten mention "Read and approved".

Please accept, Madam/Sir, the expression of my distinguished consideration.


"First name Last name of employee

"Employee's Signature"

(Preceded by the words "Read and approved")



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