So it seems you’ve found a great new role, but suddenly the employer wants you to start sooner than your notice period? Or, what if you just can’t take working for your current boss another minute? Should you care about the small print in your employment contract about a notice period or is it all just part of the contract that has to be there? All valid questions, and fortunately ones that our Recruitment Consultants can answer in detail for you! Navigating the landscape of an employment contract can be daunting, but thankfully Find is here to help! Welcome to the first in our Experienced Advice series where we drill into the most wanting questions of employment and highlight what our experienced consultants have to say!
Meet Chris Martin! One of our resident experts in Risk, Legal and Financial recruitment, he’s got over 15 years’ experience in the recruitment industry, has studied law and commerce and is one of our Senior Consultants. Chris is passionate about employment and navigating the intricacies of it all. As part of our Experienced Advice series, we caught up with Chris to chat with him about negotiating your notice period, how notice periods work, and why they exist. He gave us his top tips to navigating the world of employment contracts, and the norms with notice periods.
What are the standard notice periods, and why are they so long?
The standard notice period that we see for the majority of permanent professional roles is 4 weeks. For Senior positions such as Directors and Managing Directors we see notice periods range from 3 to 6 months. The more Senior the position the more of an impact your leaving will make – thus longer notice. For contract roles we normally see 1-2 weeks’ notice. Notice periods protect both parties and allow an employer time to look for a replacement, inform staff and clients and generally make contingency plans. As an employee, it provides a buffer from redundancy to equally allow you to move on to new employment.
What do you do when a new employer wants you to start earlier than your notice period length?
The best course of action is to be open and honest with your current employer. We find the best negotiation tactic is to offer a solution where you add value in return for leniency. This could be offering to complete a project, handover or help with finding a replacement. All in return for a shorter notice. Acting in good faith and giving a reasonable amount of fair notice is key.
This normally equates to at least a week for a short-term employment contract role or 3-4 weeks for a permanent position. In this situation you are offering to stay engaged and work hard to leave on the best note possible. It’s in nobodies’ interest for a staff member to sit in a role ineffectively, feeling disengaged and resentful. As a last resort, you may also be able to use annual leave to reduce your notice.
What notice period lengths are red flags?
If you are not in a Senior Position then a notice period of longer than a month is, in most cases, unreasonable. This will make it tough for you to move on to a future opportunity. On the flip side, you will gain the security of having extra notice should you get made redundant! We have seen a small number of clients that have a 2-month notice period for contracts – a highly unreasonable agreement. Some of our clients have a blanket policy of 2 months for permanent positions, they are unmovable on this, and it’s ultimately a measured decision by new starters to accept or not.
What happens if you ignore your notice period?
If you don’t give notice, you are breaking your employment contract and you will not be paid from the moment you leave. An employer may be able to sue you for any loss suffered and there are penalties for breaches of contract up to $10k. Depending on your level, responsibilities and your duties you may be open to repercussions, however, in most cases it will be difficult to quantify any loss suffered and may not be worth the time and effort from an employer to pursue. In practical terms not leaving your employment on good terms will jeopardize future references and damage your personal brand. The impact on future employment could end-up being the biggest cost.
If you are starting a new role, and your notice period is an unreasonable proposition, make sure you negotiate up-front. Should you need to shorten a notice period, then be upfront and offer some value in return for leaving early. If you are fair, reasonable and honest with your employer, you’ll find this often successful.
Looking to apply for a new job and have this on your mind? Brush up on your CV tips, and get ahead of the competition with our curated advice.