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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 50202
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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I started a new job on 02.01.14 with a 3 months probation

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I started a new job on 02.01.14 with a 3 months probation period during which time employer has to give 1 week notice. Contract states employee gives 1 month - doesn't specify probation period. Called Group HR to clarify what my notice period is given I haven't had end of probation meeting and was told it is unclear in contract and they would advise me to agree with line manager but if I left in a week there is nothing they could do (don't have this in writing). Line manager now saying HR was incorrect and I have to give 1 month or will be in breach of contract and could be sued - is this correct as I acted in good faith based on information given by HR? Thanks for your help.
Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. have you a copy of your contract.
According to your contract you are expected to give a month’s notice to leave, regardless of whether you are in a probationary period nor not. The advice from HR you received would not really be legally binding as they did not confirm officially that your notice period was just a week and it was just their opinion, which you decided to act on later on.

As far as the law stands, 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. Even that does not always happen.

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
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Many thanks for your prompt response; very useful.