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Do you have to work your notice period?

What is a notice period and are you obliged to work it? Find out what happens if you leave without warning.

Do you have to work your notice period?

Thinking of making a career move? Don’t forget to factor your notice period into your plans. If you’re leaving a job, you’ll usually have to give your employer a bit of warning (this is known as your notice period). This allows you to tie up any loose ends and conduct a full handover.

The length of your notice period will depend on your contract. The statutory notice period states you’ll need to work at least 1 week’s notice if you’ve been employed for more than a month and upto 2 years. But working one month’s notice is the most common scenario whether you’re full-time or part-time.

What happens if you don’t work your notice period

If you don’t work your notice period, this will likely be a breach of your contract. As a result, you won’t get paid for any time not worked. Your employer may also decide to decline a reference if contacted by your new employer.

This isn’t ideal and the best case scenario is to work your notice and leave on good terms. If you leave without working your notice, this may burn some bridges!

Are there times when you don’t have to work your notice?

There are some circumstances where you might not have to work your notice period.

Garden leave

Garden leave is when your employer decides not to let you work during your notice period. Instead, they tell you to stay home. This is usually because you’re a liability to the business. Garden leave is particularly common in sales roles and in Senior Executive roles. This is mainly because businesses don’t want you to steal any leads if you’re going to a competitor. Despite this, they’ll still need to pay your full salary as per the terms of your contract.

Mutual agreement

Sometimes you may need to put in a special request to not work your notice period. This might be because another job wants you to start working earlier. In this case, you’d need to discuss this with your manager who would have the final say. Both you and your employer would need to agree that you can leave without working your notice. You won’t get paid for your notice period.

Zero-hours contracts

Zero hour contracts have no notice period. This means that an employer can dismiss you without giving you any notice. Equally, you can leave your job without any warning.

How to hand in your notice

To hand in your notice, you need to write a formal letter to your manager. It’s best to deliver a hard copy of the letter in-person, but you can also send via email as a backup. Writing a notice letter is simple. You just need a few lines to state the facts, such as:

  • The position you’re resigning from
  • How long your notice period is
  • Your last date of employment
  • Any outstanding leave you’re currently owed

You can add in a couple of sentences thanking your employer for the opportunity and wishing them well in the future. This is a nice touch and helps to leave on a good note.

What if you’re owed leave?

If you still have leave to use up, your employer may let you use this during your notice period. But they’re not obliged to if it doesn’t suit the business’ needs. If not, you’ll just get paid any owed leave in your final paycheck before they issue your P45.

Aim for an amicable split

When leaving a job, it’s best to try and leave on as good terms as possible. So, working your notice period and conducting a full handover is in your interest.

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