Job offers - when making a job offer, ensure you state it is a conditional offer based on certain conditions being met. Conditions of employment include (but are not exclusive) satisfactory references, evidence of qualifications, proof of right to work in the UK, DBS checks, completed health questionnaires/medical examinations. If these conditions are not met, even if you receive a reference once the employee has started working for you, you can retract their offer as it was based on the conditions being met.
Ideally you should send a job contract to the new employee and receive a signed copy prior to commencement of work - this may be a condition of employment.
Withdrawing a job offer - prior to acceptance by the employee you can withdraw an offer with no penalty (you do not have to pay any notice period). Once the employee has accepted you may be liable to pay notice period even if they have not started the position. If you made a conditional offer and the conditions were not met (see above), you can withdraw at any time with no penalties. It would not be unreasonable for you to amend your contracts so there is no notice period for 1 month and only 1 week notice for their probation period.
If you believe there may be a requirement to extend someone’s probationary period ensure this is put in the conditional offer letter.
Health Questionnaires - you cannot ask about the health of an applicant prior to offering them work. It is permissible to ask medical questions where they are necessary for the job. If they tell you that is fine but you cannot discriminate about any information they give you, if it doesn’t affect their ability to do the job but means you have to make reasonable adjustments you have to continue to consider them. Health questionnaires must be relevant to the job and can be made conditional to the job offer - but again, any information you receive you cannot discriminate the applicant.
There are many ways you can discriminate when recruiting - job advert, job/person spec, shortlisting process, interview questions/responses, feedback - ensure you keep a robust paper-trail to protect yourself. This paperwork should be kept securely for 6 months.
The above is general advice and information. If you require any specific advice we recommend you contact your legal representative.