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Here is the situation I am in. I have recently handed my notice in and I have a 3 month long notice period to serve (I know, it's an insanely long period).

During my exit interview I was asked by HR if I am feel happy to complete the notice period, to which I responded yes, as I was scared that I might be breaking my contract if I said otherwise. In reality, I would like to go my own way as soon as possible.

I am now at a point where there isn't that much work for me to do and there are still 2.5 months left; I have spoken to my manager and he is aware of this. Upper management has outlined a loose plan for what sort of work I would be helping out with in the coming months. I will admit, I did not like the type of work that was mentioned and I also don't think my skillset is suitable for it. (If it matters I am in the software industry, in the UK)

Is it normal to ask my company to reduce my notice period? To summarise:

  • the lack of work is making me feel unproductive and is a waste of time for both parties
  • the company doesn't seem to be putting much effort to act on this which makes me feel that I won't be putting them into a difficult position if I ask to do this
  • I don't feel comfortable with the work I have been tasked with

Also, do I approach HR directly about this or should I speak to my manager first?

  • Do you have any annual leave entitlement left to use? I've worked in a couple of similar roles in the UK where my remaining entitled holidays just took effect at the end of the notice period. – user34587 Apr 16 at 12:33
  • @Kozaky I have about 7 days left so nowhere near enough to cover the extent of my notice period. – turnip Apr 16 at 12:41
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    Possible duplicate of How can I negotiate a reduced notice period? – David K Apr 16 at 12:43
  • It's completely normal to shorten a notice period; it's completely normal to ask for a shorter notice period. Go for it ! – Fattie Apr 16 at 13:15
  • 3 months is not "insane" in the UK for non junior roles – Neuromancer Apr 16 at 20:15
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During my exit interview I was asked by HR if I am feel happy to complete the notice period, to which I responded yes, as I was scared that I might be breaking my contract if I said otherwise. In reality, I would like to go my own way as soon as possible.

This isn't likely to be the trap you suspect - you're only breaking your contract if you refuse to work notice without agreement. For the future it would be fine to say something like:

I'm prepared to work my notice if required but if we can mutually agree on a shorter period that would be good.

To be honest in your current situation there's nothing wrong with talking to your manager / HR about the possibility of leaving earlier. I wouldn't really go with this angle:

I did not like the type of work that was mentioned and I also don't think my skillset is suitable for it.

Instead say something like

I've finished all my pre-assigned tasks, done my hand over etc so I was thinking it might be better to end things earlier rather than you having to scrape together work for me. Would it be possible to revisit my finish date?

This way you are suggesting something of mutual benefit, making it clear that you have thought through/done what you need to not to leave them in a tough spot.

Just to reiterate:

I don't feel comfortable with the work I have been tasked with

isn't the route you want to take - it's incredibly difficult to convey that without it coming off a bit, well, whiny.

do I approach HR directly about this or should I speak to my manager first?

I'd talk to your manager first - it sounds as if they are the person responsible for your workload and if you spoke to HR they would most likely ask your manager whether there was anything crucial or hand over related remaining so you'll end up looking like you were going behind their back (I'm not saying that is your intent - just how it might be perceived!)

  • Mutually agree to take PYLON Pay in Liew Of Notice I think you mean. – Neuromancer Apr 16 at 20:19
  • @Neuromancer No, if that was what I meant that's what I would have said - there's nothing in the OP to suggest that such an outcome would be feasible in their circumstances and on the contrary I think suggesting it would be counter productive. – motosubatsu Apr 17 at 11:17
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Tough to know without asking. I'd ask my manager first and go from there; leave HR as an escalation point if you can't get your manager to become your advocate.

Be clear and up front. Stress that while you might be willing to work out the full notice period, you'd certainly prefer not to if it doesn't put the company at too significant a disadvantage. See what they say. It sounds like they don't really know what to do with you and they might be relieved to part ways sooner than later.

Every long notice period I've dealt with (outside of retirements) has worked out more or less along these lines, where after a few weeks we'll find a safe place to put them where they stay out of the way, if we make them continue to come to work in the first place.

(I'm in the US, not sure how much this changes in the UK)

  • Right. In many if not most cases, they company wants to get rid of you if anything. OP, you should pretty much make it a fait accompli - get out of there! – Fattie Apr 16 at 13:16
  • Why would you volunteer to take a pay cut in this way - just ask the employer if they will do pay in lieu of notice PYLON if you have finished your main job – Neuromancer Apr 16 at 20:18
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Is it normal to ask my company to reduce my notice period?

Yes, it is, unless this is a sudden change of mind, as in your case.

Let's both agree, you should have spoken your mind during the exit interview. You're not to be charged for expressing willingness, you can only be charged if you actually do something that breaches the contract.

Also, do I approach HR directly about this or should I speak to my manager first?

  • Given the scenario, first, talk to your manager. There is already a work plan in place for you to complete in your notice period, you need to see how that can be managed. You may or may not like the plan or the tasks, but as per the current situation, you need to either complete the tasks or have to delegate them to someone who can take care of them. You cannot just abandon them because you don't like them.

    I did not like the type of work that was mentioned and I also don't think my skillset is suitable for it.

    Stress on the second part. If you can convey / communicate the fact that:

    • by retaining you, the company would not gain anything
    • by letting you leave early they are not losing anything

    they might be motivated to let you go earlier.

  • Once you have a working plan, approach the HR about revision of your reliving date. Mention that the work plan which was laid out can be managed / handled in an alternate way.

  • OK, what did I miss? – Sourav Ghosh Apr 16 at 12:41
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    Why would anyone downvote this ???????? – Fattie Apr 16 at 13:14
  • @Fattie I'm also trying to understand the same. – Sourav Ghosh Apr 16 at 13:18
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You can always ask. Effectively you will be requesting a change to your contract, and you should be prepared for the possibility your employer will decline the request. You might just have to suck it up.

(I have seen people effectively told to sit in the corner and do nothing for three months when they leave, as what appeared to be punishment for having the temerity to reason. Good companies don't do this, but (a) if you thought it was a good company you might not be leaving, and (b) good companies don't have three month notice periods in the first place).

When you ask, don't phrase it in terms of the work being unsatisfying or your own performance (quite understandably) suffering. Simply say that you hope for a clean break, that you hope to avoid others being demoralized by having to work with someone who is leaving, that you will of course make sure everything is ready to hand over before you leave, and that you'll be saving the company money by no longer drawing a salary. In other words, show that you are thinking of the company's benefit, not your own. If you are on good terms with your employer and they are reasonable people, there is no reason you cannot come to an agreement between yourselves.

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From my experience, asking to reduce a notice period is quite normal. Even more so with employees who end up having long notice periods. Like you just saw, the work often dries up. Since you're leaving, you won't be getting new responsibilities. Your boss even acknowledged it.

Ideally, you would have said something before, but it's not too late to speak up now. Speak to your manager. Don't demand anything, explain that since there wasn't enough work to keep you busy three months, you were expecting of having your notice period reduced. Say that you're ready to be here until the end, but that you'd prefer to leave before, preferably x weeks from now on (propose an end date).

They might say no, you have to perform the full three months (is so, accept it, don't fight it). They might say yes. They might say yes, but want to keep you x weeks longer than what you suggested. But as long as you're respectful, there's nothing wrong asking if it's possible to leave earlier.

I've had the case where my notice period was six weeks. A week after giving my notice, my new job asked if I could start earlier three weeks earlier, I asked my manager who said I could leave two weeks early. Easy as that.

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