Notice Periods and Resigning

For those of you who don’t know, I’ll tell you about what a ‘notice period’ means to you if you are planning on resigning. I recently found this out (yes, personally), and I can tell you that it doesn’t leave the nicest taste in your mouth, so be careful.

Situation: You are employed in one position in a company where your contract details a 1 month (4 week) notice period. You have been offered a job at a different company, but they require you to start in 3 weeks (from now, which makes it 1 week short of your notice period).

Options: At this point, your options would be something like;

  1. Resign from your current position and tell them you are leaving in 3 weeks (see below for consequences)
  2. Negotiate with your potential employer to start later (hopefully)
  3. Decline from the job and stay where you are

Now, assuming that you want the job, and that you have already discussed the start date and the 3-week start is required, that basically leaves you with the first option (not much of an option is it?). So – what happens with that 4 week notice period on your contract if you leave 1 week short of it?

In this situation, some people will attempt to apply for leave for the final week of their notice period, which will mean that they won’t actually have to go to work, but they’d get paid as if they had (accrued annual leave and the relevant authorities permitting). If this is not an option, which in some companies it won’t be, you will find that you are lopped into a situation where you will be financially penalised for not giving full notice.

When calculating your final payouts after resignation, everything your employer owes you is added up into a ‘kitty’ of sorts. This might include accrued annual leave, final salary since your last pay date, owed company expenses etc. In the case that you leave before the end of your notice period, this kitty is reduced by the amount of salary that you would have otherwise earned if you had stayed. So in our example, that kitty would be reduced by a full week’s salary before you got your final payment.

Think about whether or not you can afford to take that hit – it can hurt at the end, and will leave a pretty bad taste in your mouth, unless where you are going really makes up for it!