Can I Leave My Employment Without Working My Notice Period?

Leaving After Working Notice Period
LLM, LPC & LLB (Hons) Shereen Murphy
Written by: Jessica Lee Legally reviewed by: LLM, LPC & LLB (Hons) Shereen Murphy Updated: In: Employment

When you wish to resign from your current job it’s normally expected for you to work a notice period. Your notice period is set in your employment contract. A notice period can provide time for current projects to be finished or alternative employment to be found. However, there are times when it’s not possible or it’s best for you to not work your notice period.

What is a Notice Period?

In most cases when you are leaving your job in the UK you are required to inform your employer ahead of time. An example of informing your employer is by handing in a written letter of resignation. The period between informing your employer and your final day of work is called your notice period.

How I Find Out My Notice Period?

You can usually find your notice period in your employment contract. If you have been in employment for over a month it is expected for you to give a week’s notice unless otherwise specified. Notice periods usually span from a week to three months.

If your employment contract does not specify your notice period, you should give at least a week’s notice before leaving your role.

When informing your employer of your resignation it’s recommended to inform them in writing such as in an email or letter. In the written resignation you will need to clearly state the notice period you plan to take and when your last day of work will be. As a result, you have a written record of your resignation in the case of a dispute. Your first day of the notice period will start the day after you formally resign. 

Do You Have to Work your Notice Period?

Ideally, you should work out the notice period agreed on in your employment contract. If you have been working for your employer for more than a month, it’s usually expected for you to give at least a week’s notice unless stated otherwise.

To reduce your notice period, you can negotiate with your employer. If you can agree upon a smaller notice period, you can leave your employment without breaching any contracts.

On the other hand, if you are not granted a short notice period, you must consider if leaving your employment early would result in financial harm or difficulties to your employer. As a result, your employer can bring legal action against you if you breach your contract.

When Can You Quit Your Job Without Notice

If you have been in your job for less than a month then you do not have to give notice unless stated to do so in your contract.

Additionally, there are instances where you can leave your work without serving your notice period. Some examples are:

  • A medical emergency or a serious physical or mental illness
  • A personal or family emergency
  • Unsafe working environment
  • Physical, emotional, or sexual harassment or bullying at work
  • Lots of job losses at the company
  • Ethical or social differences

If you have experienced discrimination or sexual harassment at work, our specialist team of employment solicitors can help you on a no-obligation basis.

Read more about how AWH Solicitors can aid in discrimination at work claims and sexual harassment at work claims.

What Can My Employer Do if I Don’t Work My Notice Period?

If you decide to leave your work your employer cannot physically stop, you. However, leaving without working your notice may leave you in breach of your employment contract. Your employer can take you to court if your early leave causes the company to suffer a financial loss. Additionally, your employer could seek an injunction from the court. This would stop you from being able to work elsewhere until you complete your notice period or longer if you’ve gained a competitive advantage by breaching your contract.

If leaving your employer early doesn’t have a big financial effect on your employer, you are more unlikely to be sued for breaching your contract. However, if you are in a senior position that cannot be easily filled or if you’re leaving for a competitor, there is a higher chance of legal action being taken against you. In short, the role you play in your current company and what company you are leaving your employment for all play a part in legal action being taken against you.

What If My Employer Won’t Let Me Work My Notice Period?

Your employer should always pay you until the end of your notice period. This is sometimes called garden leave.

With garden leave, you will be paid the same way and at the same time as normal. You will also pay your usual tax. Under garden leave, you should keep all the same perks and benefits you had before. Examples are pensions, contributions, your work laptop, or work phone.

You need to check your contract if you are on garden leave for any extra rules. For example, some contracts may state that you cannot start your next employment while you are on garden leave.

How AWH’s Employment Solicitors Can Help

Depending on your circumstances leaving your employment without working your notice period can have risks. AWH Solicitors can provide expert legal advice, helping you through your next steps if you decide to not work your notice period.

At AWH Solicitors we offer a free 20-minute employment law consultation. We’ll give you advice on a no-obligation basis. If you are facing legal action from your employer because of not working your notice period, our employment solicitors will work alongside you each step of the way to get you the outcome you are looking for.

Contact our employment lawyers today or request a call back to discuss your case. Our solicitors are regulated by the solicitor’s regulation authority (SRA).

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