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How much notice do I have to give to leave my job?

Published 09 May 2022

You may have entertained the thought it would be great to tell your boss exactly what they can do with their job and quit on the spot - but is it really that easy?

Typically, if you are looking to leave your job, regardless of the reason, you will generally give your employer notice before you collect your personal belongings and head for the exit.

A notice period is the amount of time you have to give your employer before leaving a job [1 cited 09/05/22]. The amount of notice required will depend on what is in the employment contact.

All employees have an employment contract with their employer, which sets out the employment conditions, rights, responsibilities and duties [2 cited 09/05/22]

If you are certain you wish to leave your job, check your employment contract [3 cited 09/05/2022]. It should state how much notice you must give to your employer.

The amount of notice required can generally be anything from one week to three months, while those in senior or executive positions can sometimes be required to provide six months’ notice, or even more.

Sometimes if you are new to a role it can become abundantly clear fairly quickly that it is not for you.

If that is the case, and you have worked for an employer for less than a month then legally you do not have to give notice, unless the contract or terms and conditions require you to do so. Once you have been employed for at least one month, you should give at least one week's notice [4 cited 09/05/2022]

If you hand in your notice, you will usually be contractually obligated to work throughout that period.

However, if the idea of doing so makes you feel uncomfortable, you can attempt to negotiate with your employer in order so that you can leave earlier.

As with any negotiation, to achieve exactly what you want you will need to be pragmatic, flexible and reasonable.

If you do not want to work your full notice period ask for it to be reduced.

If you do so, you should be able to assure your employer you will complete any required tasks before leaving, and that it will not cause any problems. You may also want to point out that an added bonus is they would save money in not having to pay your wages for the full notice period.

When you do decide to leave a job you may want to go immediately, and not even work a reduced notice period.

If you wish to resign with immediate effect you should discuss, arrange and agree it with your employer.

But remember when you put your signature to an employment  contract, you have a legal requirement to fulfil the stipulated notice.

So, even though you may wish to leave straightaway, your employer can refuse to let you do so, and insist you work your contractual notice period.

If you then refuse to do so, it can be considered a breach of contract and have serious repercussions for you [5 cited 09/05/22]

There can be some situations in which you wish to leave, but rather than allowing you to work a shortened notice period or go immediately the employer puts you on ‘garden leave’ (or gardening leave) [6  cited 09/05/22]

It can happen if the working relationship has irretrievably broken down or if you are leaving to join a rival business.

Garden leave is when an employer tells you not to work either part or all of your notice period.

You will remain an employee, will not have to attend work and you will still get paid as usual while serving out your notice period at home.

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