Personal Law

Do I have to work my notice if I resign?

Estimated read time: 4 mins

Carrie Tennick, January 16, 2020

Resigning from your job is a major decision. There are lots of factors to take into account when deciding to do it.

Then actually going through the process of handing your notice in can be stressful and emotional. Having to then come down from that moment and work your notice period can be frustrating and tiresome.

So do you really have to work your notice if you resign? Or can you just walk out of your job?

Why do notice periods exist?

Notice periods work to offer a buffer to both you and your employer. If you resign from your role, a notice period means your company will have a certain amount of time to find a replacement and allow you to finish any important work or hand it over to someone else.

Meanwhile, if your employment is terminated by the company you work for, a notice period means you’ll have that amount of time to find a new job while still getting paid. It’s beneficial for both parties, but it can be a frustrating time to work through if you’re excited about a new opportunity.

What is my notice period?

Your notice period will usually be set out in your employment contract. If you don’t have one of those, there are statutory guidelines that you and your employer can follow. For example, if you’ve worked for the company between one month and two years, your notice period will be one week. For any employment periods longer than two years, you’ll have to add an extra week up until a maximum of 12 weeks.

Make sure that you put your resignation in writing and outline your notice period. State in the letter what date you handed your notice in and the last date you’ll be working. If you’re unsure of the period you’re required to work, ask your manager or HR department for confirmation.

Are there alternatives?

It may be that your employer chooses to put you on garden leave. This means you won’t go into your workplace but will continue to be paid until your employment is officially terminated. You are still technically employed while you’re on garden leave.

Your company may also decide to pay you in lieu of notice. This is different to garden leave as you won’t be employed by the company and will usually receive an upfront payment. This will allow you to find new employment or start the job you’ve already got.

Do I have to work my notice period after I resign?

There are a number of factors that may affect your desire to stay at your workplace. If you don’t want to work your notice period, the best thing to do is to speak to your employer. You may be able to come to an agreement where you can leave earlier than your contract states.

If you are unable to get your employer to reduce your notice period, you might consider just leaving. However, there may be repercussions to doing so. You will likely be in breach of contract, which means your employer is entitled to pursue legal action. They will be able to sue for damages, such as having to find temporary cover for your role.

The likelihood of your employer taking action against you for not working your notice period usually depends on your level of seniority and the value your role provides to the business. The more senior you are, the more likely they are to take action. They are also more likely to do so if you’re moving to work for a competitor.

Can I take holidays during a notice period?

It’s up to your employer whether you’ll be able to take any holidays during your notice period. According to Citizens Advice, when you leave your current job, you’ll be paid for any holidays you have accrued but not taken, up to your first 28 days of holiday entitlement.

During your notice period, holidays are paid at your normal wage, as they would be ordinarily.

Your employer may also tell you to use any holidays that you haven’t taken. They could also tell you when to take it. You’ll be allowed a notice period so it won’t simply be sprung on you the day before you have to go. The details of this notice period should be included in your employee contract. If not, your employer will usually have to give you two days’ notice for each day of your holiday.

Working a notice period

If you’re working a notice period, it’s advisable to keep yourself motivated. You don’t want to have to face any awkward questions about why you’re not performing well from your manager and you don’t want to risk a bad reference.

It’s a good idea to check the terms of a new job before deciding what to do about your notice period. You may find that your new employment is conditional on a satisfactory reference – and just walking out on your current employer during your notice period may result in a less than glowing testimonial.

For help with employment law matters, just get in touch. We’re happy to talk you through your options regarding restrictive covenants, contract disputes or dismissals. Give us a call, request a call back or make an enquiry online.

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