I have a three month long notice period.

If I hand over notice to employer, will I be able to enforce 3 months notice and stop my employer from unreasonably shortening it?

Because of the three month long notice period it's very difficult to get another job offer, as prospective employers are willing to wait only up to 4 weeks max. So, I plan to first resign & wait for 1.5 to 2 months of notice to pass, then start looking for a new job. But in such a situation, will I be able to stop my employer from ending my employment early instead of waiting for 3 months?

  • 2
    Are you sure that the 3 month commitment goes both ways? E.g. In Denmark it is usual that the notice period is shorter for employees announcing their resignation (typically 1 month) vs a longer period in case of termination from the employer side.
    – M_dk
    Apr 12, 2021 at 13:54
  • 1
    @Hilmar In the UK, the notice period is usually based on how long you've worked somewhere. The max in the UK is 12 weeks. So you're right, most businesses shouldn't find it too surprising. Apr 12, 2021 at 14:01
  • 1
    just a heads up, its not hard to find an employer that will wait 3 months, any reasonable company would respect you honouring your working contract, some cheeky ones will ask you to break it, but re-iterate you are a loyal worker and won't do that, it will only sine good on you
    – PeterH
    Apr 12, 2021 at 14:18
  • 1
    FWIW, 3 months is standard in the UK for any kind of non-junior position, and often for entire industries.
    – Kaz
    Apr 12, 2021 at 15:07
  • 1
    If they want to shorten your notice, they can put you on gardening leave, or just pay you upfront. This is owed to you unless you want to shorten your notice and the company agrees (if you already have a job, for example), which is not mandatory at all.
    – njzk2
    Apr 12, 2021 at 20:45

3 Answers 3


UK Advice

From the Citizens Advice Bureau:

You can give more notice than your contract says, if you want - your employer can’t make you leave earlier. If they do make you leave earlier, this counts as sacking you. You should check if you can claim unfair dismissal.

So, whatever conditions and timings that give them the ability to sack you still apply. For example, if you have pending disciplinary action or redundancy in the short term, that cannot be circumvented.

  • 4
    You should clarify that advice is specific to the UK (which is the location the OP put). In the US, it is not uncommon to have the employer waive or shorten the notice period. Apr 12, 2021 at 15:32
  • 2
    Your employer (UK) has the option to tell you not to show up for your notice period but they still pay you. This happened to me when I was paid in lieu of notice.
    – uɐɪ
    Apr 13, 2021 at 13:49

Your employer cannot shorten your notice period. They can give you notice as well, but often (in the UK) you can't be laid off for no reason, and you giving notice is not a valid reason. So unless your timing is really bad and you gave notice just when the company was in the process of laying off people you will get your notice period.

The company can tell you not to turn up at work anymore - they still have to pay you. They can lay you off instantly by offering you pay in lieu of notice - in that case they also have to pay you.


A three month notice period is very common in the UK, especially in senior positions. Any company that is not willing to wait for a three month notice period when hiring for a permanent employee is going to greatly reduce the range of good candidates available to them. If they need someone immediately, they will hire a contractor for six months while they recruit for the permanent position.

In addition, the recruitment process could easily take a month or two. For example:

  • Day 1. Send in CV
  • Day 5. HR department reviews CV, passes the best on to the recruiting manager
  • Day 12. Recruiting manager reviews CVs, asks HR to arrange interviews
  • Day 14. HR manager calls you to arrange an interview, but you miss the call.
  • Day 15. You call the HR manager back. Arrange an interview for the following week.
  • Day 20. You attend first round interview
  • Day 22-26. Hiring manager interviews other candidates
  • Day 27. HR contacts you to arrange a second round interview. The senior hiring manager isn't available for over a week.
  • Day 36. You attend second round interview. Hiring manager asks HR to prepare a contract for you.
  • Day 40. You receive your offer letter to sign. The company want a couple of weeks to order IT equipment for you.
  • Day 54. Start new job.

Many companies move quicker than this, but the above is typical. It can also take much longer. At any point before sending you the offer letter, the company could decide they don't want to hire you. Hopefully you've got other applications on the go at that point, but if not it's back to day 1. At that point your 1.5 to 2 months has run out and you are now unemployed. Many hiring managers are prejudiced against unemployed people, which could make it harder to find your new role.

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