What is a notice period: things you should know before you quit

By Robert Half on 19th March 2018

Is it absolutely necessary to work a notice period? If you’ve considered all the options available to you within your current role and are certain that no improvements can be made, you’ll need to have a full understanding of your contracted notice period before you hand in your resignation. Here’s everything you need to know about notice periods.

What is a notice period?

A notice period is the time between submitting your letter of resignation and your final day at work. As the name suggests, it gives your employers enough notice to hire a suitable replacement to fill your role. It also gives you time to organise a comprehensive handover of your tasks and projects.

A notice period is also an opportunity for you to voice any concerns you have about the business or culture via an exit interview. Your employers can use the information to continue to evolve internal processes and culture, so they can retain remaining professionals and improve themselves. 

Related: How to find the right cultural fit

Can you get out of a notice period?

It is usually standard process for businesses to insist upon some form of notice period, and the majority will have it written into employment contracts. However, you can negotiate better leaving terms for yourself if you need to. 

Your notice period can be reduced, pending the agreement of your employer. You can make a strong case for early release by presenting an action plan to have any urgent work finished and an adequate handover prepared. 

Breaching your contract and leaving without working your agreed notice period can result in your employer taking you to court, especially if they stand to lose earnings through your absence.

How long is a standard notice period?

As a general rule of thumb, the length of your notice period will depend on how long you’ve been with the company and how senior your position is. 

If you are junior or have worked at the company for less than two years, the standard notice period is one week. If you have been with the company for two years or more, you’ll usually be expected to give a week for every complete year you’ve worked. 

If you don’t have a notice period written into your contract, Citizens Advice recommend leaving at least one week’s notice as a courtesy. You might be tempted to skip this, but maintaining a good relationship with your employers can be very beneficial for your career in the longer term. You can build your professional network with ex-colleagues and will still have the option to ask management for positive referrals or testimonials.

Why you should know your notice period when you hand in your resignation

It’s always advantageous to know your rights as an employee before taking any drastic action in the workplace, resignation included. Before you commit anything to paper and call a meeting with your manager, ensure you check your contract to see what the terms of termination are and how much notice you need to give.

When you write your letter of resignation, you should include your notice period and the date of your last day, so that there can be no disputes further down the line. It also helps to date your letter on the day you submit it, to cover all the bases. 

Once your notice period is complete, submit your CV to the Robert Half team and let us help you plan your next career move.

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