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I have a contractual three month notice period (it similar to this question Reducing Notice Period).

I have been with my employer for less than two years and ACAS states that the minimum legal termination period is one week (here).

I seriously dislike my job to the point that it's making me very unhappy. I understand the contractual obligations and the necessity on the part of my employer to stipulate three months, but can I give the statutory period as I feel that the three months termination period will be quite miserable and have a negative impact upon myself. I know that I could seek a medical reason for early termination, but I'm not that "ill" (yet) that I would need medication etc.

So does a contractual notice period override the legal minimum?

Note: I am in the UK

  • If you really need to get out of their quickly you could request that you are put on "gardening leave", which essentially is where you are paid during your notice period but you are not allowed to have another job (you're required to be seen as "available to work" for your original company at any time). This sometimes happens in IT as it is really easy for an IT worker to be slow/lazy/destructive. – Dunhamzzz Mar 12 '13 at 11:27
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    Have you identified why this job is making you miserable, and have you talked to your employer to see if there is something they can do about it? – DJClayworth Mar 12 '13 at 15:35
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    The contract says you must give 3 months notice -- not that the employer will require you to remain under employment for 3 months. There is a difference. Depending on how hard you are to replace, and how critical your role is, the employer may be more than happy to shorten the 3 months if you talk to them about it. They probably don't want an unhappy worker any more than you want to stay. – jmac Mar 13 '13 at 0:37
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The statutory minimum is to ensure that employers (and employees) do not avoid a notice period, by omission, or by setting a ridiculously short one in the contract. If you have a notice period in your contract, which is longer than the statutory minimum, this overrides the legal minimum.

Employee's must give their employer a minimum of one week's notice once they have worked for one month, this minimum is unaffected by longer service. However, contractual notice is the amount of notice that the employer can set out in the terms and conditions of employment which can be longer that the statutory notice. For example the statutory notice an employee must give to an employer is one week, however, an employer can state within the terms of employment that an employee must give one months notice.

So, to answer your question, the implications are exactly as they would be if you gave no notice at all. You are in breach of contract and they are entitled to sue you for compensation.

Whether they will, only your company can tell you. And what you could potentially lose, only a lawyer can tell you. But know that the law is not on your side. Notice periods protect both the employer and the employee and are a fundamental part of UK employment law.

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  • Thank you, that is what I was after, I wasn't sure if statutory could override contractual. Obviously contractual overrides statutory. – Ourjamie Mar 12 '13 at 13:27
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    I wouldn't say that it overrides the legal minimum so much as it obeys the law setting the minimum (or similar), since overrriding suggests invalidating. Setting a notice period of 3 days would be overriding (except that it would be illegal, so technically wouldn't override). – yoozer8 Mar 12 '13 at 14:17
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    @pdr I wouldn't call that invalidating, though. It's still completely valid as the minimum; the reality is just more than the minimum required. And yes, I'm aware that I'm nitpicking. – yoozer8 Mar 12 '13 at 15:02
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    StackExchange is an appropriate place for nitpicking :) – MattDavey Apr 9 '14 at 10:04
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    @Lohoris: I suspect you'd have trouble enforcing that under the European laws on freedom of movement for workers (see Bosman), but I wouldn't sign such a contract and risk it. To my knowledge, that has never been tested. Footballers, for example, sign 5+ year employment contracts and are bound to it. The only thing protecting them is that their value decreases as their contract runs down so, if they're keen to leave the club, there is a good reason to sell their contracts now rather than later. – pdr May 19 '15 at 10:35

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