Advice Column February

I’ve just been offered a new job and now I need to tell my current employer. The new company wants me to start as soon as possible. The problem is, we’re already a bit short-staffed where I am now and I don’t know how soon I’ll be allowed to leave. How should I bring all this up with my boss?

Congratulations on your new role. It can feel awkward telling your current employer you’re moving on. The time between telling your employer you’ve found a new position and you actually leaving is known as your notice period.

If you’ve been in your current job for less than a month, you won’t have to give any notice period (unless your contract says otherwise). If it’s more than a month, you’ll have to give at least one week’s notice. Your contract should make it clear exactly how long is expected.

If you don’t have a contract, and your employer has no written record of you agreeing to a notice period, you should give at least one week’s notice.

It’s worth waiting until your new employer has confirmed your employment, for example by giving you a start date before handing in your resignation. It’s then best to resign in writing (email is fine), so that you have a record of the date you told your employer. On the Citizens Advice website we have a page on handing in your notice with tips on how to write this letter.

You can work a longer notice than the one in your contract, if you agree it with your employer. If you’re keen to move on sooner rather than later, it may also be possible to negotiate a shorter notice period than your contract says. If you want to go down this route, it can be useful to reassure your current employer that you will tackle any urgent work before finishing.

Fixed-term contracts are a bit different, as you won’t need to give notice if you intend to leave on the last day of contract. Leaving early would usually mean giving at least one week’s notice, unless your contract says otherwise.

Don’t forget about your holiday days during your notice period. If you have unused paid holiday you should speak to your employer about either taking these during the notice period or being paid for them.

Finally, sometimes people can change their mind about moving jobs or find their circumstances alter. If this happens to you, you should speak to your current employer to see what the options are and if you can stay in your current role.

Everyone’s situation is different, but if you face any challenges with an existing or potential employer, contact Citizens Advice for advice: 0800 144 8848 or visit our website pages about what to do when you’re leaving a job.

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