I've handed in my resignation on the 2nd of May, being that the 1st of May is a public holiday in South Africa.

I sent a courtesy message to my manager on the 1st, to let him know that I will formally send the letter the next day. My proposed end date would 3rd July. I've accepted another offer which my start date is the 3rd July.

HR has now come back to say that I missed the period and that I have to stay on to the 31st July.

Am I out of luck? I've asked for a concession on my behalf since I sent a courtesy, very informal, message to my direct manager the day before.

Thanks in advance.

  • You didn't miss the deadline. You sent your manager notice on 1st May, and formalized as soon as possible.
    – SiHa
    Commented May 5, 2023 at 11:06
  • An "end date" is usually the last day you work somewhere. A "start date" is usually the first day you work somewhere. You specified 3rd July as start date and end date. Where are you planning on working that day? Commented May 5, 2023 at 16:28

1 Answer 1


Am I out of luck?

Read your contract or employee handbook. They will spell out the exact rules. The most common form of this clause would indeed be bad for you. Typically it's the following interpretation: If you resign on any day in April, your notice period starts on the 1st of May and your last day of work is the last day of June. So even your May 1st note was already too late.

However, every contract is different, so you should definitely read up on it.

I've accepted another offer which my start date is the 3rd July.

That's a problem. You can decide not to serve out the required notice period: they can't psychically force you to show up. But you would technically be in "breach of contract". What consequence that may or may not have depends (again) and what exactly your contract says about it and what your local labor laws are.

By far the best option here would be to negotiate something with your employer. The notice period can be whatever you want it to be as long as both parties agree. In general, it's not in anyone's best interest to have someone show up in the office who really doesn't want to be there. That setup typically doesn't lead to high quality work. Most employers will realize that two months of "happy" notice period is better than three months of "grumpy and miffed". Talk to your boss first and ignore HR for now.

  • That's not the usual interpretation of "two calendar months". "Two calendar months" means the same day number two months from now. collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/calendar-month Commented May 5, 2023 at 16:30
  • 1
    Thanks for the response. My contract states two calendar months - HR is interpreting it as 1st to 1st. I had a chat with my manager, he'll motivate an earlier departure date for me since we have a good relationship. Commented May 5, 2023 at 17:09
  • 3
    @DJClayworth: it doesn't matter what Collins dictionary says, it matters how South African law interpret the term. Annoyingly both interpretations are possible. See for example labourguide.co.za/general/resignations-the-basics
    – Hilmar
    Commented May 6, 2023 at 17:21
  • @DJClayworth You're focusing on the secondary meaning, while ignoring the primary one that you've brought: "A calendar month is one of the twelve months of the year." E.g. from tax law: law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/26/54.4980H-1 "The term calendar month means one of the 12 full months named in the calendar".
    – Agent_L
    Commented May 10, 2023 at 15:17

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