Do I Have to Work my Notice if I Resign?

Notice periods can be frustrating. Whether you’ve got a new role you’re excited to start or you’re struggling to work under your current employer, you’ll likely be feeling eager to move on.

So do you really have to work your notice after resigning? Or can you just walk out of your job?

In this quick guide we’ve set out where you can find your notice period, as well as what could happen if you decide to leave before the date outlined in your resignation.

What is my notice period?

Your notice period will usually be set out in your employment contract. If it isn’t, there are statutory notice period guidelines that you and your employer can follow.

For example, if you’ve worked for the company between one month and two years, your notice period will be one week. For any periods longer than two years, you’ll have to add an extra week up until a maximum of 12 weeks.

There are exceptions to this, though – including:

  • Where there is a payment in lieu of notice (PILON) clause
    If you have a PILON clause set in your contract, you may be entitled to payment rather than working your notice. This means that you would stop working immediately after handing in your notice of resignation.
  • If your employer decides to put you on garden leave
    Your employer may decide it’s best to place you on garden leave after you hand in your notice. This is usually because there are concerns you could have access to sensitive information that could be taken into your new job.

No matter what your notice period is, we would always recommend putting your resignation in writing – either as an email or letter. You should make sure to include the current date as well as when your last day will be.

If you’re still not sure how much notice you should give your employer, try speaking to your manager or HR department. They may be able to provide confirmation.

What happens if I don’t work my notice?

Leaving a job isn’t always straightforward, and there are many reasons why you might feel reluctant to work through your notice period. But we would advise speaking to your manager before making any rash decisions.

In some cases, it might be possible to come to an agreement with your employer that allows you to leave earlier than your contract states. Or there may be adjustments put in place to make your remaining time at the company more comfortable – such as working from home.

If you’re unable to agree on a solution with your employer, you might consider just leaving. But there may be repercussions for doing this. You’ll likely be in breach of contract, which means your employer is entitled to pursue legal action.

The likelihood of your employer taking action against you for not working your notice period usually depends on your level of seniority and the value your role brings to the business. The more senior you are, the more likely they are to take action. Your employer may also be more likely to consider suing if you’re moving to work for a competitor.

Can I take annual leave during my notice period?

It’s ultimately up to your employer to decide whether you can take holidays during your notice period.

Some employers might even suggest that you use your remaining annual leave to shorten your notice. This is because they will need to pay you for any accrued holiday you haven’t taken before your leave date. So your employer may prefer for you to use this before you go.

During your notice period, any holidays you take will be paid at your normal wage, as they would be ordinarily.

Will I get paid if I resign with immediate effect?

If you’ve considered walking out of your job, you’ll likely have thought about what this would mean for your pay packet.

When working through a notice period, you’ll be paid your usual wage and will continue to receive any benefits like pension contributions. But if you don’t work your notice, your employer will not be required to pay you for the time that you haven’t been working.

You may also find that you lose out on being paid for any remaining holiday you had left.

There are many risks involved in leaving a job before your notice period is up. So we would advise weighing up the pros and cons before making any decisions.

If you’ve already left your workplace and need legal support, our employment solicitors could help you. To get in touch, give us a call on the number at the top of the screen or request a callback. We also have a quick and easy online contact form if you’d prefer to reach us this way.


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