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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
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Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I signed an agreement with my employer not to resign from my

Customer Question

I signed an agreement with my employer not to resign from my position before Jan 2015. The agreement outlines pay increases for those two years. My notice period is 6 months. I want to leave ASAP. Is there anything I can do?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Alice H replied 3 years ago.
My name is Alex Hughes and I am a Solicitor based in London. I'm happy to help with your question today.

What are the reasons for wanting to leave? Are you proposing to work the notice period or part of it?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I wish to leave because the work situation has changed such that I'm no longer happy to work here. My boss has changed & I was passed up on a promotion which I was told at the time of negotiations was very likely to go to me where it to come available. Also I have a job offer from another company that is not a competitor of my current employer. I would be willing to work the 6 months if I could serve notice now. 4 months would be better for the company looking to employ me.

Thank you.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Relist: Other.
Still waiting for answer... Took too long
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.
Hello in the absence of my colleague I will help with your query. Whilst you may have signed an agreement not to leave until 2015, there is still a notice period which applies and which can be used to terminate the employment earlier. There is nothing the employer can do to force you to stay until the end of the agreement and the only thing they can potentially do is sue you for breach of contract. However, they cannot really get any compensation unless they can show you had caused them actual losses by breaching the contract and to be honest if you had such a long notice period it would have allowed the employer to seek a replacement and minimise any losses they may have incurred. So it is quite unlikely that such a claim would be pursued.

The issue then becomes the notice period. If there is a written contract in place and it contains a specific notice period, the employee will be contractually bound by it. If the employee fails to honour this notice period then technically they will be acting in breach of contract. So this is another potential breach of contract claim. The employer can then make a claim for breach of contract and seek compensation for damages resulting from that breach. However, such claims are very rarely made. This is mainly due to the costs and time required to do so, plus the uncertainty over the outcome. 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 probable outcome would be that the employer refuses to provide a reference in the future or if they do, it may mention that the employee had left in breach of contract.

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 immediately, that may be the only option, subject to the risks identified above.

One final option is to claim that you believe you have been constructively dismissed. That occurs when an employer has committed a serious breach of contract. If you believe that such a breach has occurred, you can treat the contract as having been terminated with immediate effect and argue that you can leave without giving any notice as the contractual notice period would no longer be enforceable. However, only go down this route if there is a genuine breach by your employer and inform them that you are treating yourself as having been constructively dismissed.

I hope this has answered your query and would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating. Your question will not close and I can continue providing further advice if necessary. Thank you

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