I joined my current company last year. When I signed my contract, they explained to me that I would be on a year-long trial period, during which there is no notice required for any party to terminate the contract. After that, if my work were to be satisfactory, my contract would be upgraded to an indefinite one, with a month-long notification period.

Recently I have started considering my options in regards to the job market and I am currently being interviewed for a couple of companies, with more asking me if I would be interested in joining them. It is likely that I get an offer in the short term, so I would be free to leave my current company and join another one due to still being on trial. The thing is, we are just two programmers in the project I'm currently working at and we're already starting to feel a lot of pressure coming from above. The project progress is slow and management is getting nervous. We also take turns traveling for work, so at least one of us can rest each week. I feel that if I leave, my colleague's conditions would be severely worsened, being asked to travel every week, pressured even worse than before, etc. The project would halve its speed, possibly risking it being delivered late and not making it to deadlines.

I don't want to burn my bridges with the company. I've been treated fairly well and don't want to be seen like I am abandoning ship. My question is: Should I give them a grace period in which I stay with them for a bit longer even though I'm not contractually obligated to do so, to sort any urgent matters or transfer my knowledge to a colleague that would replace me before leaving? If so, how long? A couple of weeks? Thanks.

  • 6
    At the very least, you need to tell us which country / industry you're in. There are both legal requirements and cultural norms which vary incredibly on both of those. Mar 27, 2022 at 13:21
  • OP, I know you put "without mandatory notice period" in your title but since you've got two close votes for the company policies close reason, you might want to make it very explicit in the question body that there is no notice required during your trial period. (Also, Philip is right that we can't tell you what the norms of your location/industry are if we don't know your location or industry.)
    – BSMP
    Mar 27, 2022 at 17:17
  • I was about to tag my country, but I removed at the last second. I didn't think it would matter so much, it is my first question and I thought I had given enough details. I work in software development in the transportation industry, and it is based at Spain.
    – Rado
    Mar 27, 2022 at 21:21
  • "... didn't think it would matter so much..." It's OK; sometimes we don't know what we don't know. You'll want to include that information for any question that asks "what's normal/typical" because folks are from all over and even the smallest things can vary a lot. Thank you for updating the question.
    – BSMP
    Mar 28, 2022 at 3:25
  • Just checked: In Spain, required notice period is 14 days except during probabition. Probation is limited to 6 months. If you are laid off by the company after more than one year, you have a right to severance pay.
    – gnasher729
    Apr 6, 2022 at 19:37

3 Answers 3


When determining how much notice to give there are only three numbers that matter:

  • What does the contract say. This is what you have to give as a minimum. It should also be the the maximum amount you have to give. The amount of notice can change over time as you transition from being on probation to being considered permanent.
  • Not everybody has a contract. In that case you have to look at the employee handbook, or what is normal for your location or industry.
  • What your emotions tell you. Sometimes it says I want to quit now. Other times we don't want to hurt the company, the project of a coworker; so you want to give more notice than is required.

The emotional number is the most dangerous. It can lead to extra costs for you if you quit with no notice. But giving too much notice can mean that you have a gap in pay if they pick your last day to be the contractually obligated date x weeks from now instead of the date you wanted. It can also make it hard to leave if you fear that leaving will cause the project to collapse.

Your question has lots of warning signs that you are concerted about the impact of your leaving:

The thing is, we are just two programmers ...

...we're already starting to feel a lot of pressure coming from above...

...management is getting nervous...

---I feel that if I leave, my colleague's conditions would be severely worsened...

...The project would halve its speed...

---being delivered late and not making it to deadlines.

These are not your concerns. They are the concerns of management.

Go with what the contract says.

  • So you mean leaving on the same day that I give my notice? I know that contractually that is what I can do, but I feel that the earthquake that would hit the project would negatively affect my relationship with the company. And I also wonder if giving them some room for manoeuvre of, say, a couple of weeks tops would be seen in a positive light in spite of me leaving.
    – Rado
    Mar 27, 2022 at 21:39
  • 2
    @Rado, If they're treating you fairly, give them two weeks then. Mar 27, 2022 at 23:16
  • Thank you @StephanBranczyk, one of the companies that has interviewed me has asked me about it, I've given them this answer and seemed to understand, so that's what I'll do.
    – Rado
    Mar 28, 2022 at 22:26

First and foremost, you need to be working in an environment that works for you. As soon as the conditions stop being optimal for you, the quality and quantity of work you can produce will start to be effected, if it is not already. When you are working at a reduced rate of effectiveness, overall you may not be helping the company or even your colleagues by staying.

there is no notice required for any party to terminate the contract

Well here is your way out, if they have stated there is zero notice period, then this means they have already calculated and potentially prepared for this risk. It is not up to you to determine how frivolous this is. It is however an indication that even if your provide notice, they may not accept it and may terminate your contract on the spot.

  • DO NOT provide notice until you are prepared to be terminated on the spot.

The software development industry is very protective about IP, so part of the reason for a no-notice period is that they will want to lock you out of access to source code and data. Even for some positions that do offer notice, it is still common to terminate your physical access on the spot and they will pay you out for the remainder of the notice period, or you may be reduced to documentation or menial tasks. It is recognised in IP heavy or soft industries that once your notice period is started your effectiveness will be significantly reduced, your thoughts will be about the next job and you may even start to use billable time to pursue your next contract.

I feel that if I leave, my colleague's conditions would be severely worsened, being asked to travel every week, pressured even worse than before, etc.

  • It is not your responsibility to look out for other colleagues, that is the role of management, HR, team leaders and supervisors. It is an admirable quality, but your mental health concerns are paramount, hanging around a stressful or toxic environment can have long lasting effects on your mental state and personal development if you are not able to cope, or even if you think you can. If it gets too heard for your colleague to continue work, then they should also leave. If the remuneration does not make it worth-while (if you are not being paid enough) then this is not the job for you.

The reality of most projects like this is that if you leave, then they will recruit someone else into the role. This will still be a burden to your colleague, but it should be a manageable one, and the event of your departure should trigger some compassion from management in the form of relaxed expectations or a change in the conditions. Your departure should trigger some sort of internal review, especially if you leave enough clues, this might result in an overall improvement for your colleague, or you might just be the scape-goat that they need when the project runs past the dead-line.

It sounds like you may not be 100% committed to leaving, if you do really care about the project and your colleagues and are prepared to be dismissed on the spot, then about the only thing you can do to support your colleague is to approach management and raise your concerns.

The project progress is slow and management is getting nervous.

In general the pressure you feel always stems from a difference in expectations and actual outcomes, but this always falls back to miscommunication. Either the requirements were poorly communicated or the original estimates were incorrect and or poorly communicated, or perhaps you have not adequately reported progress and updated the projected timelines as quickly as your should have identified them.

  • We are in the business of setting expectations, clients and management will not like the fact that a project runs over time or budget, but as long as their expectations are updated frequently enough to match the given reality at any point in time, then management can make decisions to address the issues. That decision might be to replace you, or to acquire additional resources, or to change the requirements.

We also take turns traveling for work, so at least one of us can rest each week.

This for me is the red flag, the fact that you don't have to commute in all the time is wonderful, but your language here indicates a deeper issue. If travel is affecting your performance, or if the requirement to commute in everyday would be a problem for you then it sounds like this job is not appropriate for your situation. It sounds like either your personal position in life or your proximity to the office means that you could be more effective working in a remote capacity for this role.

Here is where you have the potential to turn this around, you should approach management with your concerns, but offer them solutions. Management don't want to hear about problems, your concern is about the progress and efficiency of your team, and that you feel the expectations from management are not inline with what your team is able to deliver in the current circumstances. Explain that you feel that you are more productive when working remote and that perhaps you could change the on-site requirement to 1 or 2 days a week. Tightly define the type of work that is most efficiently performed in the office, that would be meetings, reviews and correspondence, and the define the type of work that is more efficient remotely, when you are less likely to be interrupted.

If you can present a solution to both your problems and managements problems in a way that everyone wins, then you may be able to keep your job and potentially save the project.

If you are still asked to leave, you have done what you can to raise issues that might improve the situation for your colleague, and you have given them an excuse to make some changes. In Australia, we call this "Taking one for the team", I actually think it's a baseball reference which isn't very big over here, but we use the term a lot in situations like this ;)

  • Thank you. You are correct that both resource and time estimations seem to have been optimistic, as we feel understaffed and rushed, our company tends to offer better prices and delivery times by cutting corners, and it's up to the staff to make up for the missing time. What I may not have expressed correctly is the part about traveling. I didn't mean going to the office, if only. We are actually traveling across the country every week each, and there will come a time when we are required to do the same overseas, which would take a harder toll on our personal lives.
    – Rado
    Mar 28, 2022 at 22:19
  • Thanks @Rado I would suggest it is very simple then, they are not offering you enough money to make it worth the effort, so regardless of your loyalties, these conditions are not what you signed up for. You might even say that, "hey sorry guys, I can't travel to clients and complete the tasks, it's just not worth all the stress at this pay rate, I wish you all the best..." and walk away. Mar 29, 2022 at 3:40
  • In the EU, they can't fire you on the spot - well, they can, but they have to pay your salary for the notice period as compensation for not giving you notice (in the UK: "Payment in lieu of notice"); usually that has some tax advantages, and you can start a new job immediately, getting basically two salaries. They can also ask you not to come to the workplace again, also while paying your full salary. Basically like holiday.
    – gnasher729
    Mar 29, 2022 at 14:16

There's always a mandatory minimum notice period. Either what your contract says, or what your company handbook says, or what your country's law says.

If you give more notice, you just stay a bit longer than you had to. If you give less notice, then either your company is Ok with that and accepts it, or they are not Ok with it and will not accept it and tell you what they think the minimum notice period is. And obviously, if you give the correct notice they can ask you nicely to stay for longer or for a shorter time and you can agree or disagree with that.

  • There would be a notice period if I had finished my probation period. It is not the case yet, so my company and I are free to terminate our relationship at any moment should we decide to do so. I was asking what would the polite thing would be to do about this when I'm not obligated to notify my company a few weeks in advance of my intention of leaving.
    – Rado
    Mar 29, 2022 at 14:35

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