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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 47404
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Contract and leaving notice

Resolved Question:

I joined a company in November 2013 and the contract I signed states to provide 2 months notice period.

However, I was provided with a NEW updated contract in January 2015 which states I must provide 3 months notice period, which I have not signed.

I wish to provide notice to my employer this week -- is either the 2013 contract still valid, or am I able to provide 1 weeks notice and leave, and not be in breach of contract?

Finally one other thing to keep in mind: the company I work with (let's say company A) was liquidated and now is company B, trading as company A. Does that have any impact? I have not signed any contract with Company B.

Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Whilst you did not sign the new contract did you indicate you were not accepting it or the notice clause, or did you continue working under the new terms?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

The second renewal contract was left on my desk, and it has not been chased since. I did not bring it up with my employer, simply choosing not to sign it.

The terms included a pay raise (which has been in effect), and the termination time period change.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Additionally, I am paid via Umbrella tax relief scheme, which also provides 1 week termination notice clause in the online contract. Now I'm a little confused as to which contract is actually in effect for me.

Also, to directly answer your question(!) -- I did not directly dispute the terms with my employer.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
The relevant contract would have initially been the 2013 contract providing for 2 months’ notice. It would have then changed to the 2015 contract with an extended 3 months’ notice. I understand that you did not sign it but it is not a legal requirement for that to have happened before the contract became legally binding. It is most likely that an implied acceptance of the contract had occurred because you started to work under its terms by accepting the pay rise and if you did not challenge its terms and simply started working under it, then it would have been an implied acceptance. So legally the most likely scenario is that you would now be required to give 3 months’ notice to leave.
So 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. Also the employer has to show that actual losses have been incurred and often that is not easy to do. 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.
I hope this has answered your query. Please take a second to leave a positive rating, or if you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
Ben Jones and 2 other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thanks for that. It was rather confusing with the various contracts involved. I think what has been suggested that I take the high road and honour the implied 3 month notice period, but leave the door open for negotiations with my boss is the (legally speaking) safest.

My personal circumstance is that I am leaving to become self-employed, so the 3 month period, while not great, is also not a technical hindrance. Plus, should they respond by discharging me early, I can land on my feet and go temping instead.

I appreciate your time and thanks for looking at my question.