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Ask Michael Holly Your Own Question
Michael Holly
Michael Holly, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 6914
Experience:  I have 20 years of experience as a solicitor in litigation and other areas
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My question is regarding my notice period. I resigned at my

Customer Question

Hi! My question is regarding my notice period. I resigned at my current workplace recently after a bit less than 2 yrs. My issue is that I have an unusually long notice period of 5 months (vs. the typical 1-3 months market standard for a position like this). When I resigned I offered my manager that I would stay for 3 months but then I would like to leave, however he insists that I spend my full notice period. My question is what are he legal consequances / risks of breaking my contract. I understand from another company's HR person that my employer may sue me and / or I would not get a reference. What I would like to understand is whether (i) the worst case scenario is that I have to pay the cost of the suit if I lose the case, (ii) how likely would I lose the case and (iii) if they do not sue me just decline to give me a referral how that would impact my future possibilities (being hired by a new employer etc). Thanks, Cecilia
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Michael Holly replied 1 year ago.

Dear Cecilia

The employer could sue you for breaching the contract by leaving before the notice period in the contract has expired.

However, the employer can only sue you if they have suffered loss as a result of the breach of contract.

On the one hand, they will save your wages but may need to hire a temp to cover for your absence. So the likely loss, if any, would be the difference between your wages and any temporary cover that is required.

Given that the difference is likely to be minimal it is unlikely the employer would sue as it is simply not worth it.

If they did, you would have the argument that the notice period is unreasonably long but the employer can say you knew that when you agreed the contract and you signed it. So on balance, you are very unlikely to be sued but if you were I think you would lose.

Any legal costs you would have to pay would be minimal because it would be a "small claim" in the court where minimal costs are awarded to the winner .

Your employer cannot refuse to give a reference but can refer to your leaving early. Whether this would put off a potential employer is another matter.

I hope this helps.

If there are any further points please reply and I will be happy to respond

Best wishes

Michael

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Many thanks Michael it is very helpful and ties up with what I have heard so far. My question is that in practice how should I proceed now? Is it fine if I write a formal letter (or email?) where I ask the employer once again to shorten my notice period to 3 months. They will most likely say no (or will not reply at all). In this case I would write another formal letter where I confirm that I would like to terminate my contract at the end of the 3rd month?
Thanks
Cecilia
Expert:  Michael Holly replied 1 year ago.

Dear Cecilia

I would request a shorter period and point out that the notice period is beyond the industry norm.

You do not have to confirm the 3 months as this is the contractual notice period and you have already given notice.

Michael