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Topic Title: Typical employee notice periods
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Created On: 20 January 2010 11:24 PM
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 20 January 2010 11:24 PM
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Delta925

Posts: 3
Joined: 20 January 2010

I am employed as an electronic systems design engineer earning just over £30K pa with no benefits. I have been with the company 3 years.
A major customer has been rattled by the departure of a senior employee and apparently as a condition of securing new contracts the company must show it has the staffing level and skills to competently complete and support the contracts.

Hence my employer is putting most new staff on 3 months notice and wanting to change the contract of employment of most existing staff who are currently on 1 month notice to 3 months notice.

For a job with this salary I think 3 months notice is too long as should I wish to move on at some time in the future very few prospective employers would wait 3 months.

I would be very interested for others employees to post their approximate salary / benefits and notice period and for employers to post how long a notice they period they would wait for a new employee for a role paying around £30 - 35K pa.
 21 January 2010 09:00 AM
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amillar

Posts: 1918
Joined: 28 May 2002

My feeling is that this is a borderline case, as you say 3 months is unusual at this salary level, but it is not unknown.

Your big problem, however, is what you can actually do about it. You can refuse to accept the new contract, but then your employer could (as far as I can remember) say that you are therefore no longer able to fulfil your duties, and end your employment. You could then take it to a tribunal to decide whether this was unfair dismissal or not, but, to be honest, even if you win the case you're probably not going to make much out of it.

I am guessing that you don't have a union to negotiate this...if you do, then you should use them now.

The other thing to consider is how likely it is that your employer would actually hold you to the three months. After all, when someone resigns employers usually want them out of the building as soon as possible - they are not going to work at full capacity, and they are likely to demoralise other staff around them. It is common that when staff leave that the notice is negotiated down to a month or less, but with an agreement that they will be 'on call' for a month or two should a specific question arise.

You will find, however, that when applying for jobs having to admit to three months notice counts against you, so it is well worth trying to find out now whether this is likely to be negotiable so that at least when asked you can say 'three months (typically negotiable down to one month)' or similar.

Hope this helps, and keep asking around to get other people's views on this, I wouldn't claim any of the above as gospel!

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 21 January 2010 09:19 AM
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amillar

Posts: 1918
Joined: 28 May 2002

See also http://www.thesite.org/workand...g/leaving/givingnotice

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 21 January 2010 09:55 AM
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weirb

Posts: 15
Joined: 25 July 2008

It may be worth asking the question on the UK Business Forums legal section.

See http://www.ukbusinessforums.co.../forumdisplay.php?f=57

-------------------------
Perspective CMMS
 21 January 2010 10:46 AM
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westonpa

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 21 January 2010 01:49 PM
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amillar

Posts: 1918
Joined: 28 May 2002

Excellent link there, see also on the same site: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Em...Conditions/DG_10037116

Note the first paragraphs:
What if you and your employer don't agree?
If you don't agree, your employer is not allowed to just bring in a change. However, they can terminate your contract (by giving notice) and offer you a new one including the revised terms - effectively sacking you and taking you back on. Your employer would be expected to follow a statutory minimum dismissal procedure. They may have to follow a collective redundancy consultation process if they plan to do this to a group of employees.

If this situation happens in your workplace, you should contact the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) or another advice service from our contacts pages for further guidance.

If you don't accept the new contract - or if you've accepted the new one but feel there was no good reason for ending the old one - you have the right to make an unfair dismissal claim provided you've at least one year of continuous service with your employer. You may also be able to claim redundancy if you have at least two years service.

If there is a sound business reason for the change, and your employer has properly consulted you and looked into any alternatives, you could find it difficult to win your claim.


-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 21 January 2010 10:35 PM
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Delta925

Posts: 3
Joined: 20 January 2010

Thank you to all who have responded. The links are useful and I have posted just on UK Business Forums.

Yes it is a small company and I have no union membership.
From the company's viewpoint the role is not extremely specialist or skilled. However I am the only person carrying out the tasks and it would take somebody with similar skills and experience coming in as my replacement some time to understand the overall project, the work already done and the work required to be done.

If I gave notice the company would almost certainly want to hold me to the three months notice as otherwise work in progress would be further jepodised.

I am aware of the pro's and con's of not amicably working the agreed notice particularly regarding future references.

I have specifically not discussed what the company would do if I refused to accept the change of contract as I want to find out my position first. I have been pointed to this
Either you or your employer might want to change your employment contract. However, neither you or your employer can change your employment contract without each other's agreement. Changes should normally be made after negotiation and agreement.

I was wondering what legal case they had along these lines
You can refuse to accept the new contract, but then your employer could (as far as I can remember) say that you are therefore no longer able to fulfil your duties, and end your employment.


Regarding redundancy I would rather take the risk of 2 months less notice than be stuck with possibly the only way to move having to give the 3 months notice then look for another role possibly being out of work for a period if I was not accepted for another role starting when the 3 month notice period ended.
 22 January 2010 08:52 AM
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tickner

Posts: 1229
Joined: 30 September 2001

Must be a thing with small companies, I worked for one years back and my notice period was 2 or 3 months for a relatively junior position.

Now, if they hold you to 3 months notice, do they also give you 3 months if they want to get rid of you? (is it equitable)

I have seen some interesting techniques in my current company for getting out of even the 1 month notice period. Getting a job with a direct competitor tends to have people leave fast - especially if said person has access to commercial information.

The fastest method, which is a literally your feet don't touch the floor on the way out, is performing some industrial espionage for new employer (aware of two cases of that at different employers). For obvious reasons I wouldn't recommend that!

-------------------------
Mark Tickner CEng MIET
 23 January 2010 09:41 PM
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johnnmann

Posts: 53
Joined: 18 October 2006

At my first employer, who I was with for many years till the Americans took over, the notice period increased with length of service up to a maximum of three months. This however was regarded as purely an employee benefit in that the company would give three months pay/notice if terminating employment. If the employee gave notice, one month was nearly always accepted.

My present employment contract initially provided for one week's notice (I think it was a standard contract downloaded from the internet that no-one had bothered to read properly!). When another employee gave, and worked, his one month contractural notice, my contract was rapidly changed to two months notice which I would be expected to work.

I think I'm right in saying that if you just don't turn up to your old work you are breaking the contract but the employer can do no more than not pay you. I personally would be reluctant to do that however.

Telling your potential new emplyer that you are not going to drop your old empoyer in it by breaking the contract may give you some plus points as an honourable person, if that counts for anything.
 24 January 2010 06:03 PM
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Delta925

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Joined: 20 January 2010



You can refuse to accept the new contract, but then your employer could (as far as I can remember) say that you are therefore no longer able to fulfil your duties, and end your employment. You could then take it to a tribunal to decide whether this was unfair dismissal or not, but, to be honest, even if you win the case you're probably not going to make much out of it. .


I spoke to ACAS and downloaded their advisory leaflet regarding varying contracts. Yes an employer can do this and as you say whatever the outcome a tribunal probably not worth the hassle.

I would not want to go down the road of using 'tactics' to get out of the contract notice period as it would count against me if a reference was needed in the future.

Also the employer can sue for financial loss e.g. if they bring in an agency worker they can sue for the additional cost difference over and above the wages they would have paid the employee who did not work all the contracted notice period.

Must be a thing with small companies, I worked for one years back and my notice period was 2 or 3 months for a relatively junior position.


I have spoken with two people who work in engineering.

One is with a quite small company but bigger than my employer and he is on 3 months notice and a lower salary too.

The other works for a large engineering / construction company. All staff until a higher level are on 1 month notice and they would never consider anybody on 3 months notice to fill a role with a contact including 1 month notice.

So from this very limited research I agree.
 09 February 2010 05:00 PM
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akister

Posts: 3
Joined: 31 October 2008

3 months notice is normal for professional level jobs in Germany and Switzerland. Companies expect to wait for good people, and the plus side is that you usually get three months of gardening leave if you job is sensitive...:-)

I would be more concerned about Non Competition clauses here which are enforceable with penalties that can be imposed within contracts !
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