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I've just accepted a job as a senior developer. In my contract it says that my notice period is three months.

In the past I've always had 4 weeks or one month, which is standard for office jobs in the UK. However, I know that in more responsible positions the notice period is often longer. In one of my previous roles, a manager gave his 4 weeks notice at a critical time and it caused big problems for the business. After that they made sure all new contracts for management had 12 weeks' notice.

So while I'd prefer 4 weeks, I understand that 12 is common if you want to progress to a position of responsibility.

But how does it work practically? If I want to change jobs in future, do I really need to work for 3 months? Does anyone have experience with this?

One idea would be to hand in my notice, then start applying for jobs when I have 6 weeks remaining. That feels a bit dangerous. Another would be to try to negotiate it down with the company, but if they say no, I imagine I'd lose offer for any new role, as few companies will wait 3 months for someone.

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    It's worth noticing that in practice you may hand your X month notice period one day, and be terminated that same day, and not have to serve the whole period if your manager decides so... that is why you should start job-hunting right now and not after you hand the notice – DarkCygnus Mar 1 at 18:09
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    This sounds like 3 months is something very exotic from another continent or culture. In Germany, most jobs have that notice period (not only managers or seniors). Please note that the notice period portects both sides. It's totally normal in Germany and it works fine. Also, leaving even a role with a lot of knowledge is not stressful with that much time. You can actually plan the transition with a relaxed mind. – marstato Mar 1 at 19:26
  • @DarkCygnus That may be common in the US; I think it's pretty rare in Europe. You simply can't fire people for giving their notice. – Abigail Mar 1 at 22:52
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    @DarkCygnus I think I know what you're saying. Are you talking about the situation where someone is paid their full notice period, but not required to work? So they are effectively on gardening leave. I've seen this happen in roles like external-facing project managers or when a lot of sensitive data is involved. – Colin Mar 2 at 8:14
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    @Colin yes, precisely that situation you describe – DarkCygnus Mar 2 at 10:23
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I also had a 3 month period in the UK until recently relocating to the US where no notice period is normal.

In my experience, companies will actually wait for 3 months. Once you're at a level of responsibility where longer notice periods are common, it is generally very hard to fill roles and companies are comfortable waiting once they have identified the right candidate.

Secondly, it's almost always possible to negotiate an early exit assuming you're leaving on good terms and the company won't be significantly disadvantaged by your timing (ie: right before a critical launch).

Personally, comparing the UK/US situation here - I prefer the longer notice period in the UK - it provides you a safety net which is invaluable as you progress in seniority and the kinds of roles you might want become rarer.

  • Thanks for sharing your experience. It's a good point on the employee protection, and one area where this can be helpful is redundancy. Statutory redundancy in the UK is quite weak (only after 2 year's service and the formula doesn't amount to much unless you have 5+ year's service) but they have to pay your full notice period in addition - so this would really help in that situation. – Colin Mar 2 at 8:25
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If you signed a contract with specific terms, you are bound to it unless some terms are against the law. In that case, those specific terms are invalid.

In terms of resigning, do what's best for you. HR will do what's best for the company, and you should do your part to protect yourself from unemployment.

One thing to note is notice period is both way. If you quit, they cannot force you to leave before 3 months without paying salary for that period

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