Hi, sorry I was offline by the time you had replied last night. If there is a written contract in place and it contains a specific clause detailing the notice period an employee is supposed to give if they wanted to leave their employment, they will be contractually bound by it. Therefore, if the employee fails to honour this notice period then they will be acting in breach of contract. The employer then has the option of suing the employee to seek compensation for damages resulting from their breach. However, in reality such claims are very rarely made. This is mainly due to the costs and time involved, also the relatively small damages that can be recovered. So whilst there is no way of predicting whether the employer will take this any further or not, chances are that they will not. A more likely outcome is that the employer refuses to provide a reference in the future or if they do, it could mention that the employee had breached their contract.
If no contractual notice period clause exists, an employee who has been continuously employed for at least one month is required to give a minimum notice period of one week in order to terminate their employment.
It is therefore best to try and negotiate a mutually acceptable notice period that would suit both parties. However, if that is not possible and there is a pressing need to leave early, that is still a possibility, subject to the risks identified above.
Finally, there are circumstances when an employee may be entitled to leave with immediate effect and without honouring their notice period. This occurs when an employer has committed a serious breach of contract first. The whole contract, including the notice periods, then becomes immediately void and the employee would be treated as being 'constructively dismissed'. So if there are reasons to believe the employer has acted in breach of contract, whether a breach of an express contractual term, or other breaches such as bullying, exposing the employee to unreasonable stress, discriminating against them, etc this reason can be relied on in order to leave with immediate effect.
would i need to prove the stress and bullying?
you do not need to prove it unless the employer decides to sue you for breach of contract but when the stakes are just for one week's notice I very much doubt it will ever get to that
there is no contract, does that still apply?
yes as mentioned then you need to give a week;'s notice by law
Please let me know if this has answered your original question or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this? Thanks