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My current UK employment contract, which has a 90 day probation period, has the following notice periods:

  • Within 90 day probation: company can give me 1 week, I must give 1 month
  • Outside 90 day probation: company can give me 1 month, I must give 3 months

This is only for a junior/mid-level web developer role. Is this an unreasonable notice period?

I ask this because I handed in my notice 2 days after my probation period ended (92nd day), and my employer is saying I must work the full 3 month probation period, despite requesting a reduction to a 2 month period.

Although within the bounds of the contract, I feel this is totally unreasonable as I did not know my probation period had ended (no formal review etc). Ideally I want to know if I have a leg to stand on if I breached the contract.

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    It seems odd that the notice periods are asymmetric. In my experience they've been the same from both sides.
    – ChrisF
    Nov 17, 2017 at 0:20
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    All my past jobs and even my new job all have asymmetric notice periods. Funnily enough they have all been 1 month notice periods too. It pretty much confirms I shouldn't be working for a company like this in the first place.
    – Bobby8889
    Nov 17, 2017 at 0:40
  • Did they change the notice period requirement after you joined?
    – Masked Man
    Nov 17, 2017 at 1:21
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    Unfair and unreasonable does not make something illegal. Nov 17, 2017 at 8:21
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    If you knew you had a 90 day probation period, you can't use not knowing it was over as an excuse. You should be able to count just as well as them.
    – cdkMoose
    Nov 17, 2017 at 13:44

2 Answers 2

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This site suggests they can. It is not the norm though. Normally, notice periods for both parties are identical. You should read your next employment contract carefully before signing, such terms can usually be changed upon request, or be a warning sign of a bad employer. (To my knowledge, in Germany this would even be unlawful, an employer needs to give notice the same or longer than the employee)

You could try to convince you employer to let you off earlier. Making somebody serve for months against their will is known to be quite harmful to the employer. Motivation and quality of work are usually quite low and sick times tend to be quite high in such a case.

Offer to give them your full support and a clean handover if they agree to a one-month period. After only 90 days of work this should suffice.

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  • Thanks for taking the time to answer this. I have already tried to be reasonable with them and ask for a 2 month notice period (which suits my new employer) rather than 3 months. It was denied...
    – Bobby8889
    Nov 17, 2017 at 0:38
  • Maybe you sould talk to a lawyer what are the ramifications of just not showing up anymore. Guess they would be able to sue for finacial damages? Maybe your new employer is willing to buy you out?
    – Daniel
    Nov 17, 2017 at 0:41
  • You could also see a doctor because the psychological stress of being forced to work there is making you sick ... maybe after one or two weeks on sick leave, they will realize how unreasonable they are.
    – Daniel
    Nov 17, 2017 at 0:45
  • I have briefly spoken to someone with some employment law knowledge and they basically said it's extremely rare companies sue, and if they do, the losses they would claim for would be minimal (the legal costs would probably be more). At the end of the day though, I'd rather work there for another month than be sued. Sickness is one option, it is genuinely stressing me out a lot...
    – Bobby8889
    Nov 17, 2017 at 0:52
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    Somehow you need to convey to them that ist a loose-loose, making you work the full period. I really don´t know enough about UK employment law, but it should be not too hard beeing useless and annoying in a non-harmful and legally uncritical way.
    – Daniel
    Nov 17, 2017 at 0:57
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3 months is unusual (and IMO excessive) for a Junior-Mid level developer role. Generally I only see ones that long for very senior or critical dev roles or more often management. So yes it's pretty unreasonable, as is the asymmetry of it.

Unfortunately such periods, even asymmetrical ones aren't illegal and ultimately you agreed to the conditions when you signed the contract. About all you can do is ask for them to be flexible and see if there is a compromise which you've already tried and they refused.

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  • 3 months is not in usual for non junior roles in the UK and even the statutory notice period can be 12 weeks if you have worked for the same company for a while Nov 17, 2017 at 11:18
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    @Neuromancer Suggest you reread the original question - OP is a junior there only for 92 days, so neither of those apply...
    – Gwyn Evans
    Nov 19, 2017 at 0:26

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