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Context

I work in the UK, my line manager is in France, but department head is in the UK. I've worked in the same role for 12 years. My line manager has been in his role for three months, with the manager he's replacing still in the process of handing over.

I have received an offer of employment from another firm, with a formal offer letter, and a contract with a provisional start date, based on a projected end date using my full notice period (3 calendar months). I have accepted, but not signed the contract as yet.

Spoke with my line managers and department head to give verbal notice, and agreed to a final day of 31st October. Sent my formal notice email to management and HR that afternoon, and it was accepted the next morning, with confirmation of 31st October being my final day.

Problem

My new line manager is now attempting to put conditions on that early leaving date. Over the phone, we had agreed that he expected me to complete certain tasks, and handover duties, which I expected, and seems to be nothing out of the ordinary.

Via email, his list has expanded, and though it's all seemingly feasible, he's left the door open to adding more, with the words "to shorten your notice period here are the list of items we need - at least - to be completed", and "each point is not exhaustive". He's also scheduling a meeting for early October to discuss my actual leaving date.

I'm unsure whether I should sign a contract with an earlier leaving date as yet, considering my line manager is attempting to add conditions. I'm also unsure whether he could change my leaving date in this manner.

After cooling down, and before hitting send on a slightly heated email, I've searched for information about this, but most hits just mention "notice periods are negotiable", and that I should sign the contract before handing my notice in.

For all the calm and collected people out there, how should I respond to ensure I don't come across hostile, but to ensure I don't get treated like a door mat, and am left having to revise a contract again?

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    The question is whether your notice being "accepted the next morning, with confirmation of 31st October being my final day." constitutes a binding change to your contract. If it does, you're good. If it doesn't, your employer (via your manager) can hold you to the original three months should they choose to. I think you'd need an actual lawyer to answer that question though, so this is probably off-topic here as it will depend on the precise wording of everything involved. Sep 7, 2023 at 9:42
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    “HR has already confirmed Oct 31 as my last day and that’s when I’ll be departing. I will work full time to ensure an effective transition is performed by then.”
    – mxyzplk
    Sep 7, 2023 at 16:05
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    Is the HR acceptance in writing (email or otherwise)? Sep 9, 2023 at 15:37
  • For anyone interested, I have so far simply continued doing my job focusing on the requested tasks. Manager is still deciding on whether he wants to let me leave early, but HR accepted October 31st and I have already signed my new contract, because I cannot accept having things up in the air, and possibly losing out on both roles. Sep 30, 2023 at 9:14

5 Answers 5

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it was accepted the next morning, with confirmation of 31st October being my final day.

Then you are good. Your notice period was discussed and agreed upon in writing.

how should I respond

Mostly by ignoring it.

There is not a whole lot they can actually do. Enforcing notice periods is notoriously difficult. You cannot be physically forced to work so the only remedy that a company really has is to sue for breach of contract and damages when you don't show up. That's easier said than done: it costs time and money and the employer has to proof and quantify damages. (see for example: https://www.brighthr.com/articles/end-of-contract/notice-periods/not-working-notice-period/)

In your case you have a written confirmation of your notice end date, so the chances that a court will rule in the employers favor close to nil. Even if your manager is on a war path, HR and legal will assess the case thoroughly before taking legal action and it's not going to pass muster.

Relax and chill out. When you are on your notice period you are basically untouchable. The company has no more leverage over you and some managers get angry and irrational about this. Keep doing your work with reasonable quality but don't do a thing more. If your new manager tries overloading you, just ask them to prioritize. "I can't do A, B and C, please advise on priority, unless I hear otherwise, I will be focusing and A and C".

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If you offered a date of October 31, and the company agreed to it, it's a binding agreement and the company (including your manager) can't revise the terms without your express permission.

That said, it seems he's now leaning on you to amend those terms implicitly. The trick is, though, that you're only bound to what's already been agreed upon. Do that, and nothing more. Work your regular shift and don't take work (or even the idea of work) home with you. Do so at a pace that suits you, as there's really zero need to stress out about not getting everything done.

Should your boss want to keep piling work on you before you leave, consistently ask for re-prioritization each time you get something that needs to be done "right now". After you do this so many times, he'll back off, but you must make it very clear -- with diplomacy -- that you're not going to allow him to stress you out.

Do yourself a favor, and forward all emails / correspondence about your notice period to a personal email account, just for record-keeping. Do this NOW, because if something changes drastically, you'll have proof.

Best of luck!

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  • Asking for re-prioritization is an excellent idea. Sep 8, 2023 at 11:55
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You write a really simple yet polite email.

Dear Manager

As you are aware, it was agreed on <date> that October 31st would be my last day at this company. I have already made commitments based on this agreement. Unfortunately I am not in a position to change those commitments.

However I understand the desire of this company for me to complete certain tasks before I leave. I will make every possible effort to complete as many of those tasks as I can during my time left at this company. It would help me very much to get a complete list of those tasks as soon as possible. Please also indicate the priority order of the tasks, to ensure that I complete the most important ones.

Yours

Filipe de Sousa

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agreed to a final day of 31st October

Why exactly did the company agree to shorten your notice from 3 months to about 8 weeks?

If the decision by HR/the department head is thought to be firm and final, then it seems like the appropriate response to your immediate manager is simply to advise that you will be departing on 31-Oct, this already being agreed with management and coordinated with your new employer.

Obviously, once such a date was formally agreed, it is obvious you would act upon it to align the start of your new employment.

If your immediate manager seems to be under a different impression that your leaving date is still up for negotiation or adjustment, then perhaps politely tackle the misunderstanding head-on.

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IMHO it is not surprising that the hand over list is not exhaustive especially since your manager is new. This is probably a decent blow to his world as you have been with the company for quite some time and he has probably delegated many tasks to you. He is being forced to learn the entire scope of your work under some duress. This is to say go easy on him.

The key thing here is to talk with the new employer. How flexible are they? Tell them of your woes and how the old employer has rescinded the early leave date. What can be done, but assure them you want to come but are reluctant to have a start date that you may not be able to actually start. You don't want them to think your reluctance to sign the contract is because you don't want to join them.

In the end I think you can make this work. It will require all parties to negotiate a bit. You can help smooth the transition by filling in gaps for the manager at the old job. Things like "Janice can handle item 42, and Will can do item 33, but you left out these points and I have created a document with information about them".

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