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Last week I handed in my resignation.

In my contract it stipulates that the company can terminate employment given one month's written notice and the employee given three months’ notice. My contract also states that the company reserves the right to pay me in lieu of notice.

As such, I expected to serve my 3-month notice period and then leave to join my new employer. However, two days following my resignation letter I was asked would I be okay with that day being my last day. After inquiring about pay, I was informed I would be paid until the end of the day and credited any annual leave I had remaining. Since I would be losing out on almost 3 months' pay I declined.

I did not receive a response from my employer for the entire week. Then I found out I would be able to join my new employer earlier if I were available. Thinking this would be a mutually beneficial situation for both me and my current employer I sent an email to ask if they were also in agreement, we could set a finish date for 4 weeks from now.

Two hours later I receive a phone call from my manager, this time to tell me that my last day of work would be the middle of this coming week (exactly two weeks after I handed in my notice). I was informed I would only be paid up until the last day I worked. I did not agree with this, so I asked to be put in contact with the relevant person in HR that had okayed this.

That takes us up to today. I was going to ask HR on Monday for documentation of the legal basis they have for terminating my notice period early without pay, without my consent and without prior written notification.

Is this the best approach? What else should I do?

It is also worth noting I have been with the company for over two years and I am not on a probationary period. The company is based in the UK.

EDIT: In my email I laid out all the facts and requested their legal documentation for everything. Their response was a list of the reasons they wanted to end my notice period early, misconceived as a legal basis on which they could end my notice period early. At the end they agreed to the compromise I had suggested, 1 month's pay with outstanding annual leave, rephrasing it like they were doing me a favour.

I ignored the bulk of the email and just thanked them for my time in the company, and for reaching an agreement with me. I got what I wanted because now I can start my new job ASAP. Thankfully I didn't have to threaten a lawyer in the end as they caved in the first response to my email.

Thank you to everyone that posted!

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  • When do you start the new job? I guess pay day has just gone or will be on Monday? Is this correct – Ed Heal Feb 27 at 23:02
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    Does this question address the main question you have here? Can I be fired the same day that I hand in my notice? My answer there goes into some detail on the basics around a counter notice. Or are you looking for advice on how to approach this topic with HR or your manager? – Lilienthal Feb 27 at 23:12
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    "What else should I do?" Talk to Citizen's Advice and/or an employment lawyer. – Philip Kendall Feb 27 at 23:23
  • You can also try to negotiate: Offer them to leave peacefully next week if they pay 2 months out of the three. Everybody saves face and chances are they are worried about legal consequences. – Hilmar Feb 28 at 13:08
  • @EdHeal Yes, pay day just went by on Feb 25th. My new job are flexible on when I start, they have left it to me and my availability. – Ciaran Feb 28 at 21:18
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I am not a lawyer, but what I know of employment law tells me that they cannot do that. If a company has to give you notice then they have to give you notice, or pay in lieu.

Sometimes companies will do something blatantly illegal in the hope that you either won't notice or won't bother to assert your rights.

As Justin says, make sure you have everything you and they say in writing, and make sure you keep copies of all communications and relevant documents on the matter in a place where you can get at them if access to your work accounts or computers were suddenly denied you.

Your approach is about right. I would add telling them when you meet that your understanding is that what they are doing is illegal. Tell them you will be consulting a lawyer. If they don't back down then follow through and consult a lawyer as soon as possible. In the UK starting with the Citizens Advice Bureau is always a good idea. (If you can do it quickly I would go to the CAB before I talked to HR.)

By the way, it's important not to be angry and to remain professional, even when the company is trying to illegally cheat you.

EDIT: Read the OPs description of what happened in the end. That's the outcome you are hoping for.

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  • All the above. OP, make sure you have everything in writing available, especially your contract and the employee handbook if it is referenced in the contract. Phone Citizen's Advice Bureau and make an appointment. If necessary, they will put you in touch with a specialist lawyer for which the first hour is free and will very likely resolve your issues. – Justin Feb 28 at 11:33
  • I have an email prepared and marked as urgent for HR first thing tomorrow morning. I have decided to give them one last chance to end this amicably. I have made it clear from this email I will be defending my rights, I won't be mentioning a lawyer, but if they don't back down my next communication will. In the mean time I will get in touch with Citizens Advice anyway, thank you. Currently I have everything in writing apart from the last phone conversation requesting I finish this coming Wednesday. – Ciaran Feb 28 at 21:36
  • My personal advice is that if you intend to use a lawyer, tell them now. Otherwise you are just adding another step in the negotiation, while they think "Oh he's upset, but he won't actually go and get a lawyer". Then there will be a stage when they think "Oh he's threatened a lawyer but he won't really get one." – DJClayworth Feb 28 at 21:46
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    I recommend finding the name of an actual employment lawyer at an actual law company and say "I'll discuss this with Mr / Mrs X at ABC law company; they have helped me before". – gnasher729 Mar 2 at 19:37
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There's absolutely no way they can get away with this.

You gave three months notice. That means you work and get paid for three months. It seems there is a clause in your contract allowing them to give you one month notice. This is deeply unfair and if they gave you one month notice, a court might reject that. But good news for you, they didn't give you one month notice.

Instead they asked you if you were willing to leave with one day notice, and you said "no". That was just asking you and not a notice.

Some time later they tried to give you a very short notice. They gave you notice at the time when they told you, not at the time you gave notice. They didn't give you two weeks notice, but say four days. According to your contract they can't give you four days notice, so you didn't have to accept that notice. Guess what, they still haven't given you notice! Anyway, it seems your manager hasn't given you notice in writing, so he has no evidence of anything.

So on Monday, you go to HR, you tell them that they still haven't given you notice that you need to accept, and that you would be willing to accept X days notice (exactly the time that is best for you, if it is less than one month) at full pay, plus your pay for outstanding holiday.

And google to find a decent employment lawyer, "employment lawyer near me" on google had several results quite close to me when I needed one. Better to say "I'll pass this on to my lawyer at XYZ law company" then "I'll pass this on to my lawyer". Best to say "I'll pass this on to Mr/Mrs ABC, at XYZ law company, who has helped me before". Doesn't have to be true.

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  • I’m guessing OP has worked for same company for more than 12 years as he gave 3 months notice. Company are required to do the same with full pay or they may request you leave early, either way your entitled to the full 12 weeks. If in any doubt speak to ACAS they can be found easily on Google. They are allowed to ask you to leave early but they have to still pay you the full legal notice period. – Dan K Feb 28 at 20:31
  • "Over two years" from the post, so I suppose the contract says 3 months notice by employer vs. 1 month by employee. Which I would never accept in any contract. – gnasher729 Feb 28 at 22:37
  • The company is letting the person a way out. The new company is letting a way in that is earlier. What is the problem? New company gets their new recruit earlier. The old company has not to deal with an employee that is on the way out - aka a distractor – Ed Heal Feb 28 at 22:57
  • BTW - Do you live in the UK or US? I guess the latter – Ed Heal Feb 28 at 23:03
  • Unfortunately I joined them as a graduate, believing they were a great company to work for and saw the contract as a lot of hypothetical legal red tape. Lesson learned. I have worked for them for two and a half years but the notice length in my contract supersedes the legal minimum from my understanding. – Ciaran Mar 1 at 8:20

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