New contract offered.

Terms of which dictate a 12 month notice period for both parties, however "such notice may only be served to expire on or after month here 2022".

This effectively means a 12 month notice period cannot be posted until 2021, essentially locking me in for 3 years.

Can this legally be enforced in the UK?

It seems a bit much... its not a senior position, 2 years grad experience only

EDIT: Notice period changed to 6 months. Still awaiting legel advice re 3 year lock in

  • just as a side note i do enjoy working here.
    – Pop24
    May 22, 2019 at 14:51
  • @dwizum (no offence taken) I'm not misquoting though. It has been clarified with HR that this is exactly what the contract means... a 3 year lock in.
    – Pop24
    May 22, 2019 at 14:52
  • 1
    @dwizum i was as surprised and perplexed as yourself... the way it has been sold is that they are tired of losing graduates, investing in them and have them leave. Its also a contract they claim they wouldnt just offer to anybody they offer it to the best grads (though its universal to any grad it is offered to). i should note there are fixed increments to salary every year, well above inflation and standard percentages. There are no other termination clauses. though i will check again for such.
    – Pop24
    May 22, 2019 at 15:03
  • 6
    Does the contract spell out any penalty for not following the rules? Would you have to pay back a bonus, or have some other impact? Has the employer explained what their theoretical enforcement mechanism is? Are you given terms describing your enforcement mechanism if they decide to get rid of you early? Most importantly, have you shown this contract to a lawyer?
    – dwizum
    May 22, 2019 at 15:06
  • 3
    @Neuromancer ill got my local citizens advice bureau and see what their thoughts are on it thanks
    – Pop24
    May 23, 2019 at 9:33

4 Answers 4


That amount of notice period is just ridiculous.

Let's say January 2020 you want to leave the company. You say to your boss "I want to leave", and the boss says "no way".

Don't you think your motivation would suffer? And your productivity would really suffer? To a point where they fire you?

If you want to leave, you can make them make you leave. Still, don't sign it.

  • For me and my experience i agree, however this notice period is becoming more the norm in my industry. Yes i also agree with your points on motivation. Its not a great contract, no question, I'm just tring to gauge whether they have any recourse and what recourse should i renegade on these terms.
    – Pop24
    May 22, 2019 at 17:22
  • Which industry? I know that in many industries high level managers have something like 3 months notice period. So anything more that that for a "regular" employee is crazy.
    – virolino
    May 27, 2019 at 11:51

The three years is bizarre, but doesn't necessarily have to be a deal-killer. The 12-month notice period is the real problem. If you like the job as-is, and you can look forward in your life three years with some accuracy and know that you intend to remain where you are, and the work is interesting, and it's reasonably well-paid with a solid built-in pay progression... that locking yourself in for three years might be worth it. It's less restrictive than many active military contracts, after all. There's some concern that it might go ugly halfway through - in your situation I'd want to talk with some previous employees who'd taken the deal and then finished out their three years - but if you can be sure that they wont' suddenly start abusing their control halfway through, then it could be cool.

The real issue is that twelve-month notice period. That's absurd. If, five years down the road, your life takes a sudden turn and you really need to change cities? It'll take a year to get out of the contract. If the job goes sour for some reason, you're stuck with it for a year... and so on. The first three years is okay, because you're starting out, and you can possibly plan for that three years in advance, but the dramatic loss in agility from having a year-long notice period is extreme, and it apparently never goes away.

  • Yes i agree with yo uparticulailry with regard to three year plan. Thereafter it is a concern for me, as well as the fact that notice cant be served in the first 2 years. My thought would potentially be to sign the contract and hand my notice in at the first possibility drawing attention to the fact that im happy to renegotiate terms for a new contract, and look for a new job in the mean time
    – Pop24
    May 22, 2019 at 17:25

Don't sign it with this in

I understand that you enjoy working there now but can you guarantee you still will in three years time? That your circumstances, or those within the company, won't change?

A reasonable company would allow you to renegotiate on this - a 12 month notice period is long enough for them to find a replacement already (especially for your position).

  • Yes this is also my concern hence the question of how enforceable this is within the UK employment courts. They refuse to negotiatie on the basis it s a post grad contract and needs to be universal for all their post grads. We could form a sudo union but we have 2 years or less experience each in most cases and as such are fairly expendable
    – Pop24
    May 22, 2019 at 17:24
  • Don't let the fact you feel expendable let them push you around - where does that line of thinking stop? What if they insist they pay you less, that you work longer hours etc etc... I know its difficult but it isn't a healthy line of thought to start your career on. May 23, 2019 at 7:57
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    thanks for the advice, appreciate your thoughts, its something i will think about for sure and not jump in head first.
    – Pop24
    May 23, 2019 at 8:33

If the contract really is as you state then you should take the job, go in on day 1 to make sure they've got your bank details correct and then never show up again. They still have to employ you until 2021 and you can get a second job in the mean time and earn double wages. Or take the time you write your novel/do a bunch of drugs or whatever takes your fancy.

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