If you are considering applying for a new job as the new year is upon us, it is advised that you understand your notice period beforehand. You don’t want to rush into accepting another job, failing to realise just how much notice you currently have to give. There is more than what meets the eye when it comes to notice periods and this varies from job to job. You can find details of this in your contract; if you don’t have a copy then ask a member of your HR department.
Before we continue, if you are wondering what a notice period is, it is the amount of time that you must provide your employer when handing in your resignation. This is in place so that the current employer can find a suitable replacement in enough time before you depart. It also applies to the other way around, the period of time an employer must give an employee if they terminate the current contract. Keep in mind that the employers have the right to terminate the contract without notice if the employees have committed gross conduct. Again, this will be outlined in your employment contract.
Despite what is outlined in your contract, there is a legal length of notice period:
- 1 month – 2 years: 1 week’s notice
- 2 years – 12 years: 1 week’s notice for every year worked (max. 12 weeks)
So, if you worked somewhere for five years, the minimum notice your employer could give you would be 5 weeks! This is why it is so important to clarify this before accepting another position, especially if it requires an immediate start.
Depending on the industry you work in, an employer may offer to pay in lieu of notice. This means, if you agree to it, then you will be asked to leave immediately and be paid for the notice period you would have had to work. This happens in some cases, when the attitude of a departing employee could be detrimental to the business objectives or office moral.
In some cases, you may be asked to go on garden leave during your notice period. This is when you are asked to worked elsewhere, not in the office. This is more common with senior employees to restrict them access to private and confidential business information and access to files such as client lists.
It may be stated in your employment contract that you’re not allowed to work for a competitor, have contact with customers, or start a similar business for a period of time after you leave your company. Terms like these are known as ‘restrictive covenants’ and must be taken seriously as you can go to court if these are breached.
We hope this explains it for you! If you have any questions about the above, then please get in touch!