Navigating Notice Periods for Employees

Navigating notice periods for employees is a crucial part of career transitions, and understanding the intricacies involved can have a huge impact on your professional reputation and relationships.

Notice periods state how long you have to work after handing in your notice and the time frame varies from role to role and company to company.

Whilst most notice periods do not exceed 12 weeks, they can extend beyond six months for senior or sensitive positions and, even at the lower end, can feel like a lifetime. After all, you’ve chosen to leave the company and continuing to work there can be a little uncomfortable, not to mention making the move to a new job less exciting.

However, leaving your current job for something new isn’t uncommon. We’ve explored a list of solid reasons why people leave their job in another post so make sure you give it a read.

Nevertheless, regardless of how excited you are to start your new journey, you have to remain considerate and professional throughout your notice period. The business still relies on your contribution to keep things running smoothly so you must conduct your day-to-day activities as normal.

Whilst this can feel tricky, that’s what this blog post is all about! We’ll be providing you with practical guidance when it comes to navigating your notice period and we’ll also be covering the average notice period in the UK.

Continue reading to get the full low down about notice periods for employees so that you can focus on enjoying the last few months in your current role instead of dreading it.

What Does Current Notice Period Mean?

The current notice period refers to the amount of time an employee is required to notify their employer before resigning from their job.

It is a set period of time which is specified in the employment contract or handbook and is intended to provide the employer with enough time to find a suitable replacement or make necessary arrangements to ensure a smooth transition.

The length of the notice period can vary which we’re exploring in more detail below. Adhering to the current notice period is crucial to staying professional and ensuring a well-managed exit from the company.

What Is the Average Notice Period UK?

The average notice period in the UK is 1 month. However, notice periods can range anywhere from 1 week to 6 months depending on role, seniority, and the company.

For instance, in senior roles such as a Development Director or Head of Property, a 12 week notice period would be considered necessary as this gives employers enough time to plan for the right replacement.

These positions require a certain level of skills, experience, and expertise so employers need time to source the right talent. Due to the time consuming process of researching, screening, and interviewing candidates, businesses should partner with a recruitment agency who can manage this on their behalf.

As an employee, it’s important to check your contract before you start to make sure you’re comfortable with all of the terms and conditions, including the amount of notice you need to give when resigning.

Whilst it does vary from one company to the next, the amount of notice you give cannot fall below the statutory minimum:

  • Employed for less than one month – no notice required.
  • Employed for one month to two years – minimum of one week’s notice required.
  • Employed for two to twelve years – minimum of two weeks notice required, plus an extra week for each additional year of continuous employment, up to a maximum of twelve weeks.
  • Employed for 12 years or more – minimum of 12 weeks’ notice required.

So whilst the average notice in the UK is one month, it’s important you refer back to your employee handbook for confirmation.

What happens if you don’t work your notice period?

It’s important you fulfill the requirements listed above, as failure to do so can result in breach of contract and an employer can sue you for any damages (for example if they had to hire someone temporarily to cover your role).

Similarly, if your early departure disrupts ongoing projects or business operations an employer make take action against you. They could argue that your role is critical to ongoing business function, and that your sudden departure without serving the correct notice period, could result in delays, setbacks, or even financial losses for the company.

As such, it’s crucial you honour your notice period to maintain a positive relationship with your current employer and to avoid any damage to your personal reputation.

If you’re hoping to reduce the length of your notice period, then keep reading as we’re telling you how you could negotiate.

blonde woman and man talking in an office

How to Negotiate Your Notice Period

If you want to terminate your notice period early, then don’t panic.

As we’ve already noted, many highly paid, senior positions have notice periods of 3 months which can feel like a huge obstacle when you’re trying to pursue a new career path.

In these situations, it’s normal to contemplate how you can exit your contract early, especially if your new job is keen for you to start soon.

The best solution is to have an open and honest conversation with your manager and explain your reasons for wanting to reduce your notice period.

You also need to reassure them that any outstanding work will be completed (this might mean working some long hours) as this will give them confidence that operations won’t suffer when you leave.

To reduce the impact of your leaving even more, you could offer to help your employer find a replacement by utilisng your own network. Make sure you put the word out about the job opportunity and connect with relevant people via LinkedIn.

Being honest is always the best way to negotiate your notice period as there might be some sort of arrangement that suits both parties.

Notice Periods for Employees FAQ’s

What is a typical notice period?

A typical notice period varies across industries and job positions. While it can range from two weeks to three months, a standard practice is one month. The is typically outlined in the employment contract or company policies, and it’s crucial for employees to be aware of and adhere to these terms.

What is the statutory minimum notice period UK?

In the UK, the statutory minimum notice period is one week if an employee has been with the same employer continuously for at least one month but less than two years. After two years of service, the notice period increases, and employees are entitled to receive two weeks’ notice from their employer.

How much notice to give an employer after 2 years?

After two years of employment, the notice period often remains subject to the terms specified in the employment contract or company policies. While there might not be a significant change in the statutory minimum notice period after two years, employees are encouraged to review their contracts.

5 Tips for Navigating Notice Periods for Employees

Understanding how to approach this transition reduces any strain on your working relationships and makes you feel more at ease. After all, you don’t want to leave on bad terms as you don’t know when your paths will cross in the future.

This is particularly important if you can’t terminate your contract early. Remember, you should always remain professional for the remainder of your notice period.

By following these 5 steps you can enjoy the last few days, weeks, or months in your current role before continuing your career elsewhere.

Stay focussed and professional

Whilst it’s easy to get lost in the excitement of landing your new job (especially if you’ve climbed the career ladder), you need to stay focussed.

You don’t want to be perceived as unprofessional if you take your foot off the pedal as the slack will need to be picked up by someone else. Also, as we’ve mentioned, it’s important to leave your current job on a positive note.

Whilst working your notice period, don’t let your standards slip and make sure you continue being punctual and hitting productivity targets.

You should also avoid talking negatively about your current place of work as, once again, you never know when this will come back to haunt you.

Remain focussed and professional through your notice period, and this will put you in good stead when starting your new position.

Provide a detailed handover

This links nicely to the point above about upholding professionalism as, in most cases, your role will be taken on by someone else.

This means they will need to learn all about the responsibilities so that they can fill the position without major disruption to operations.

Writing a detailed handover is the best way of making sure that there is a smooth transition. Your handover should include your responsibilities, key points of contact, a list of software and login credentials, process charts, and any other tools you need to do your job.

If your replacement has already started, you should arrange regular meetings and catch up sessions to help onboard them into the role. This might include running them through different pieces of software or providing training on different parts of the business. If they’re yet to start the detail of your handover is even more important so that they can hit the ground running.
man sat in a grey armchair

Be honest but polite in your exit interview

Many businesses conduct an exit interview to learn more about your reasons for leaving. This gives them an insight into areas for improvement which can help boost staff retention rates.

As we’ve covered, there’s lots of reasons people choose to leave their jobs such as:

  • 50% of people value work-life balance
  • 44% want flexible working
  • 33% value being appreciated by colleagues

These numbers highlight why employers need to understand staff happiness to retain good talent. This is one of the reasons why exit interviews are useful for employers. Equally, as an employee, they give you a chance to express your thoughts and feelings.

However, it’s important you remain polite throughout the conversation regardless of whether your experience was positive or negative.

If something did bother you, explain what happened, how it made you feel, and what outcome you would have expected. This allows your employer to understand the situation to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen again.

For instance as a Construction Project Manager, did you experience issues working with engineering and design consultants on a particular project? Perhaps they kept making last minute changes which delayed project completion, and annoyingly, this reflected negatively on you.

Make this clear in your exit interview so that the business can find ways to improve.

Build up your skills

Whilst you’ve got your eyes set firmly on your new position, it’s important to think about what experience you’ve gained in your current role.

Regardless of your reasons for leaving, consider what projects you have worked on and the positive outcomes you’ve contributed to.

Perhaps as a Development Marketing Manager, one of your email campaigns generated a high volume of sales enquiries which ultimately boosted the profits of the business.

Or maybe as an Architect, you created some fantastic designs for a big client that they absolutely loved and which led directly to you winning the project.

Whatever your involvement, make sure you include this in your CV and start building up an image of why you’re a great hire. Whilst you’ve already landed your dream job, you have no idea what the future holds and having a good resume puts you in a great position.

Leave a good impression

Despite any fallouts or disputes you might’ve had, it’s best to leave on a high. No one knows what will happen in the future so you don’t want to leave on bad terms.

For instance, you might want to return to the company one day if a good opportunity comes up or you might end up working with a fellow colleague at a different company.

Social media platforms such as LinkedIn have also made this point even more important as you want to be perceived positively across your network.

This can boost your chances of future employment as colleagues can recommend you via LinkedIn. They can also like, comment, and share your posts which can increase your exposure when you’re looking for a new career opportunity.

However, if you’ve left things on a sour note then this certainly won’t be the case which is why maintaining interpersonal relationships with colleagues is crucial.
two men shaking hands

The Rise of the Counter Offer

So, you’ve handed in your notice and you’re ready to start your new role.

However, if you’re highly valued by your company and they want to keep you, they may present you with a counter offer.

In this scenario, you have two options:

  1. Accept the higher paid offer and stay in your current role.
  2. Recognise that even with the increased salary, it’s not the right fit for you.

In an increasingly competitive market, counter offers are becoming more popular as employers are keen to retain good talent. Aside from this, the cost of hiring and training new employees can be high, not to mention the time it takes from the business to get them up and running.

However, salaries are not the main factor for people to switch roles. According to our salary survey, salary is only the third most valued benefit and, while the lure of money can be distracting, it won’t address the other reasons you were ready to move.

We’ve covered the Rise of the Counter-Offer in full in a different blog post, so make sure you give it a read to understand their impact on your career.

Navigating Notice Periods for Employees

To summarise, understanding notice periods for employees can feel a little stressful.

Once you’ve landed your dream job, handed your notice in, and spoken to your boss, all you want to do is focus on your new role.

However there’s still a job to be done and the majority of notice periods can be anywhere from 1-12 weeks! During this time you need to continue working as normal, fulfilling any outstanding requirements, and ultimately, making sure you leave on a good note.

At Macdonald & Company, we’re the leaders in real estate recruitment and we match the right candidates with the right employer by leveraging our extensive professional networks. To find out more about how we can help, get in touch with our team.

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