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Notice Periods

ProssPross Posts: 25,338
edited August 2014 in The cake stop
Does anyone on here have experience of getting out of long notice periods and have any tips for negotiating this? Mine looks like being a potential obstacle to moving on but I would assume most employers wouldn't see the point in forcing someone to stay beyond the time it takes to replace them as a disgruntled employee clock watching all day and wishing he wasn't still there whilst drawing a decent salary isn't really beneficial to anyone! I quite fancy 6 months of garden leave but doubt I'd ever get back to work and most potential employers seem to want a person as close as possible to immediately these days.
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  • ai_1ai_1 Posts: 3,060
    How long is a long notice period?
    Contracts often request a notice period of 4 weeks, 6 weeks etc but in reality that's not enforceable. I'm not even sure if it's entirely legal. In my experience it's generally excepted that your pay period is your minimum notice period, so if your paid weekly, you should give at least 1 weeks notice. If you're paid fortnightly you should give at least 2 weeks, monthly, then 4 weeks. If your new job depends on a quick departure, I'd simply tell your current employer that and if you think it's appropriate you can apologise for any inconvenience, offer to be as cooperative as possible in leaving things in good shape, etc, etc. You can possibly also include any untaken holidays in your notice period. But whatever you do, don't screw yourself because of the notice period in a contract.

    Also bear in mind that while prospective employers will often ask if you can start immediately, they almost certainly don't expect that you can. They know that if you're already in employment you'll need to work some sort of notice period and if anything they should be more nervous if you agree to an immediate start. I'd tell them what's in your contract but that you'll speak to your current employer and see if you can agree a shorter period. That's what I've typically done in the past. On the last occasion the contract said 4 weeks, the new employer wanted two if possible but were satisfied with 3 or 4 if necessary. I agreed 2.5 weeks with my employer, took a week of holidays and started with the new employer after 3.5 weeks.
  • ProssPross Posts: 25,338
    6 months. I happily agreed to it at the time as it came when job security was still a concern and was part of a contract change that came with a promotion and pay rise so it seems unfair to try to unilaterally change it for my benefit and I suspect that if the company felt it was worthwhile they would fight it legally which I couldn't afford to contest. However, it seems no benefit to either party to keep a person on against their will and they would potentially save a 5 figure sum in letting me go early. It's all hypothetical for now as I don't have an offer but just wanted to hear from anyone who has had a similar issue.
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 14,126
    That has been a trend for the past few years. Companies effectively tying up employees with long notice contracts.
    The longest I have seen was 3 months but 6 months is taking the biscuit.
    This really highlights the importance of reading any contract prior to signing.
    Edit:- I just saw your reply. Swings and roundabouts of security v flexibility. Any choice in one direction can be regretted later.
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  • ai_1ai_1 Posts: 3,060
    Wow! I've never seen anything like a 6 month notice period. What industry are you in?
    My previous comments may not be very applicable since this is a longer notice period than I was imagining. I think 8 weeks is the longest I've heard of.
  • drlodgedrlodge Posts: 4,824
    I've seen 3 months but 6 months is a long time. Any notice period is negotiable, it depends on what the employer wants and how they feel:
    - at one end, they could be short of staff and insist you work your notice period since they simply need bums on seats
    - at the other end they could be glad to see you go and not interested in employing someone who has no interest coming into work.

    I guess its up to you to negotiate an early release - if they insist on you staying then you can point out that just because you have to come into work and get paid for it, it doesn't mean you'll necessarily be productive...
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  • tlw1tlw1 Posts: 18,855
    Mine was 3 mths, but it turns out HR had made a little error and unless I sign a new contract they have to give me 3 mths notice and I only have to give 1 mth.

    With regards to 6mths - what would happen if you said you were going to a rival?
  • bompingtonbompington Posts: 7,593
    matthew h wrote:
    Mine was 3 mths, but it turns out HR had made a little error and unless I sign a new contract they have to give me 3 mths notice and I only have to give 1 mth.

    With regards to 6mths - what would happen if you said you were going to a rival?
    There's the solution - tell them that & say you'll happily work the full notice, then spend a lot of time at the photocopier looking shifty.
  • ai_1ai_1 Posts: 3,060
    matthew h wrote:
    ....what would happen if you said you were going to a rival?
    The last place I worked (a medical device manufacturer) I know of a few people who did this because the company policy was to let them go immediately but they still have to pay them for the notice period. I wouldn't falsely say I was going to a competitior myself since it's essentially stealing, but it does happen.
    Contracts are generally much more restrictive on the employer than the employee.
  • kajjalkajjal Posts: 3,380
    You just need to talk to HR and see what the options are. Notice periods depend on the needs of the job and can include not joining competitors for x months. Few companies employ people for the sake of it and will negotiate notice periods. Most new employers understand longer notice periods and expect them for certain roles.
  • Ben6899Ben6899 Posts: 8,136
    Pross, I'd tell them to stuff the 6-month notice period; they won't want to take you to tribunal over it. Most business units in the industry in which you work are at critical mass and only just making a profit. They're not going to throw money at this.
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  • ProssPross Posts: 25,338
    6 months isn't uncommon (or at least didn't used to be) at senior level in my sector. We've had people join us who were on the same and either waited for them or they negotiated out early. I suspect I'll be able to agree an amicable solution as I've been with the company more or less since it started. We don't really have a HR department to speak to and I'll be dealing directly with the MD if I eventually get to that stage.
  • graeme_s-2graeme_s-2 Posts: 3,382
    I'm on 3 full calendar months, so if I gave my notice today, I wouldn't finish work until 30th November. If I gave my notice on 1st September I wouldn't finish until 31st December!

    In my experience colleagues have been able to negotiate shorter notice periods usually with their line managers. I've seen a couple of cases of gardening leave (weirdly you still need to book annual leave for holidays during this as you're supposed to be available to attend the work place if requested), and one case of someone managing to get pay in lieu of notice (so they paid them for 3 full calendar months in advance and let them go immediately).
  • ProssPross Posts: 25,338
    Gardening leave sounds great but I remember how hard it was to get back into the swing of working after a 3 week break from work. The last person of my grade who left was put on gardening leave and they kept bringing him in every now and then, possibly out of spite!
  • Hi Pross,
    Leave is great - returning to work is hard.
    After 3 months off last year I have taken the summer hols off this year. My choice.
    Time to start looking for work,
    Dave.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 52,567 Lives Here
    It's tricky. It's a negotiation but ultimately the employer has the power.

    If you are moving to the client side of the fence it's an easy sell - I'm moving to a client - the easier you make it for me and them the better it is for everyone.

    If you are likely to be given gardening leave and you are not going to a rival - make it clear you are not going to a rival and so it's cheaper for them to let you go sooner.

    Other than that, you will have to just ask very nicely & hope. Or suck it up. I wouldn't 'ignore it' or go against it. That will inevitably backfire.

    That's my advice - and I'm a headhunter who deals with this stuff all day.
  • t4tomot4tomo Posts: 2,643
    It's tricky. It's a negotiation but ultimately the employer has the power.

    If you are moving to the client side of the fence it's an easy sell - I'm moving to a client - the easier you make it for me and them the better it is for everyone.

    If you are likely to be given gardening leave and you are not going to a rival - make it clear you are not going to a rival and so it's cheaper for them to let you go sooner.

    Other than that, you will have to just ask very nicely & hope. Or suck it up. I wouldn't 'ignore it' or go against it. That will inevitably backfire.

    That's my advice - and I'm a headhunter who deals with this stuff all day.
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  • DesB3rdDesB3rd Posts: 285
    Your employer can’t send round the bailiffs to frog-march you to your work-station.

    Leaving my last job I got out of a 4 week notice period in 2; while I didn’t hide that it was a fait accompli it was far from a “f8ck you” – I did interviews & hand over to my replacement and left on good terms. I think that’s quite typical.

    All the employer can do is chase you via the civil courts for breach of contract – unless you’re some sort of niche mega high-flyer it’s extremely hard for them to substantiate that material damages have been incurred; it’s a bold/foolish/vindictive employer who takes legal action.
  • danlikesbikesdanlikesbikes Posts: 3,898
    Pross wrote:
    6 months isn't uncommon (or at least didn't used to be) at senior level in my sector. We've had people join us who were on the same and either waited for them or they negotiated out early. I suspect I'll be able to agree an amicable solution as I've been with the company more or less since it started. We don't really have a HR department to speak to and I'll be dealing directly with the MD if I eventually get to that stage.


    Just do what your doing & discuss with them, of course the only problem is your effectively letting them know your leaving. But in business they would be quite silly to not come to an agreement with you over it. You could always if it comes to it tell your new employer once you have accepted that your old employer were making it difficult and can they help you out.

    My work colleague went though a shorter notice period when he left our company for another job and our MD said he had to work his period but due to the nature of his work he could only do admin work for 4 months. I got the great job of telling our MD to use common sense and agree a much shorter period as you never know in business and what goes around comes around. Anyway the same guy is now back working for us and would never have considered that it we hadn't treated him sensibly
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  • BobbinogsBobbinogs Posts: 4,841
    Yepp, some good advice here. I would have a think about your role and all the things that would be good to finish or put in place before you leave or hand over. Then, go to your MD and say "I accept the 6 month notice period but would like to leave earlier so how about we agree some deliverables as part of the bargain"? If he says "censored off" then keep all those good things you thought of to yourself. If he agrees to the concept, start dancing around the handbags and see what can be agreed.

    Most things can be sorted with common sense and a bit of give and take on both sides.
  • BarbarossaBarbarossa Posts: 248
    DesB3rd wrote:
    Your employer can’t send round the bailiffs to frog-march you to your work-station.

    But if it gets nasty, they can get an injunction to stop you working elsewhere and they can sue you for breach of contract - the cost of employing someone to do your job for the period of your notice!

    6 month notice periods are normal in my field and they are enforceable. You need to talk to the relevant director and come to an agreement.
  • gethincerigethinceri Posts: 1,123
    I'm with Bobbinogs, talk to your employer about it, come to an amicable solution. I have seen lots of people think that they'll get "gardening leave" only for them to be shown the door almost immediately (Medical Device industry). I've been with same employer for over 12 years, after about 4 I realised that my strongest ally is the HR representative (manager, director or whatever, the person that your file sits with) and some of my closest colleagues have not yet worked that out. It's a shame that you don't have HR as such, but if you've been with the company from its inception then the MD knows who you are, has valued you as an employee and will want to see you leave on good terms, without the hard drive of contacts and company data that is easily accessible if you leave disgruntled. Pretending that you're going to a competitor is an option, but you'll burn a bridge.
    Best of luck, whatever happens.
  • I deal with people moving between senior level jobs and agree with what Rick Chasey says - try to find an amicable solution that works for both you and your employer, but be prepared for them to enforce your contract and insist that you work the full notice period.

    And be wary of pretending you're going to a rival to secure gardening leave, I know someone who tried this and got caught out. They were hauled back from their 3 month "paid holiday" and had to work their full notice.
  • mfinmfin Posts: 6,724
    I'd do it the other way. Go looking for a new job, get interviews, and talk to that employer when and if they ask 'when can you start?' and you can find out when they'd want you... then see if it's likely to work and worth opening the can of worms with your current employer. The future employer is only going to talk sense most likely and if they want you they will tell you how long they will/would wait.
  • Stevo_666Stevo_666 Posts: 43,923
    It's tricky. It's a negotiation but ultimately the employer has the power.

    If you are moving to the client side of the fence it's an easy sell - I'm moving to a client - the easier you make it for me and them the better it is for everyone.

    If you are likely to be given gardening leave and you are not going to a rival - make it clear you are not going to a rival and so it's cheaper for them to let you go sooner.

    Other than that, you will have to just ask very nicely & hope. Or suck it up. I wouldn't 'ignore it' or go against it. That will inevitably backfire.

    That's my advice - and I'm a headhunter who deals with this stuff all day.
    Petty much what I was going to say. All you can do is negotiate. maybe commit to finishing off certain important projects etc before you go? (I'm conscious of this as I'm on a 6 month notice period myself).
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  • kajjalkajjal Posts: 3,380
    The other point is assuming the six months is enforced once you get halfway through it you will be on a more normal leaving period anyway.
  • Read the recent judgements in Li v First Marine Services & Sunrise Brokers v Michael Rodgers then speak nicely to your employers bearing in mind that the long notice may have been deliberately used as a form of pre-termination restriction. It would be unwise to put yourself in breach of contract.
  • ProssPross Posts: 25,338
    Thanks all. I won't be raising it until I get an offer but just wanted a feel for whether reducing the contracted notice period is generally accepted. I would think 2-3 months would be OK for both parties i.e. appoint a replacement and brief them on my projects. I wouldn't hold a grudge if they held me to 6 months unless it actually cost me a new job, after all I'd be holding them to it if they let me go, but I don't think anyone would be getting a good deal from it.
  • Months ?? weeks is more like it.

    I worked for one place for 3 days before telling them they were liars and waltzing out the door.

    Anyone I`ve heard of with long notice periods have been paid to sit at home and not allowed to work for anyone else,
    Trek,,,, too cool for school ,, apparently
  • rozzer32rozzer32 Posts: 3,409
    In my industry 6 months is the norm. Some people at my work have notice periods of 1 year. As has been said talk to your current employer and try to come to some sort of arrangement. People at my work who have moved out of the industry and not to a competitor have normally had their notice periods reduced quite a lot.

    Just make sure when you go for interviews you let them know your notice is 6 months. If they want you then they'll be happy to wait. So the worst case is you have to work your 6 months.
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  • djp66djp66 Posts: 115
    I've recently been through this and managed to get 3 months down to 6 weeks. What worked for me is to have an exit plan worked out in advance, who you are going to hand over what to, when, how you'll do it and finally how you'll be able to proove that the handover has worked.

    If that fails, it was suggested to me that I should just start becoming incompetent and use the "this is just costing you money" angle ...

    Good luck
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