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I gave my 60 days notice today but asked if it can just be 30 days notice so that I can start my new job in early Jan.

My CEO said that's fine and has basically said for HR to terminate my contract in mid-december just before the Christmas shutdown.

So is basically trying to avoid having to pay me over the Christmas break.

Am I right in thinking this is illegal? I can't afford to lose out on 2 weeks pay

Should I just be glad that they are letting me leave early so I can start my new job?

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  • 19
    What exactly did your CEO tell you? There could be a difference between you being told to enjoy a few extra days holiday (with pay) or you being sent away without pay. Commented Dec 7, 2023 at 8:56
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    Did you ask to clarify what they meant by "leave"? Did they give you anything in writing? What is the "Christmas break", is the company closed and you get paid anyway?
    – nvoigt
    Commented Dec 7, 2023 at 8:56
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    You have a contractual notice of 60 days. You have opened negociations to change the notice period, once you both agree why do you think it is illegal?
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Dec 7, 2023 at 9:18
  • 25
    Wait, you asked for a shorter notice period and are now sad because they said yes??
    – AakashM
    Commented Dec 7, 2023 at 9:54
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    @AakashM, he asked for a shorter notice period to align with a new job starting January (instead of having to wait until February). What he seems to be getting doesn't align, and leaves him unemployed over Xmas instead.
    – Steve
    Commented Dec 7, 2023 at 10:04

3 Answers 3

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Both:

  • You have the right to be paid for your notice period.
  • Your employer has the right for you to work your full notice period.

Everything beyond that is subject to negotiation. At the moment, it doesn't sound like you and your employer have an agreement to reduce your notice period which you are both happy with, so things revert to the default situation and you will need to work your 60 days notice, which obviously includes getting paid for Christmas.

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    Which also means: do not sign anything you don't want to sign!!
    – Stef
    Commented Dec 7, 2023 at 22:30
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    I strongly disagree with this answer; it builds in too many assumptions as to what was discussed. The way OP phrases it, it sounds like they asked the company if they would accept 30 days notice, and they said yes. If that is correct, a binding contract was formed at that point (jurisdiction: E&W) and the company cannot then renege on it. The company's subsequent reduction of the notice period to less than 30 days is in breach of the agreement. All of that is IF the conversation happened the way OP implies. We can't know the true situation without being privy to the entire communication. Commented Dec 9, 2023 at 9:34
  • @JonBentley you are allowed to disagree with the answer, however it should be considered that you are in the minority given what others appear to think since the writer cannot vote for their own answer. And it seems that you nor anyone else has downvoted it.
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Dec 9, 2023 at 9:43
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    @SolarMike I suspect that is because this is workplace.stackexchange rather than l law.stackexchange, and so most people aren't approaching this from a legal perspective. From the legal perspective, there is a right and a wrong answer here, and majority/minority opinions don't really matter much. The key thing here is whether "it doesn't sound like you and your employer have an agreement [which] you are both happy with", which is based on facts we aren't fully privy to - OP's post certainly sounds like they did reach an agreement, but the CEO then changed his mind. But we can't know for sure. Commented Dec 9, 2023 at 9:47
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    @SolarMike As for not downvoting, I didn't do that because this answer could be correct if its assumptions are true. But a better version of the answer would add the caveat. Commented Dec 9, 2023 at 9:55
34

You asked your employer to reduce your notice period, and they proposed a day. You don't have to accept it - you can negotiate another day (if your employer agrees), or revert to the 60 day notice. But you can't just say "I want to leave on this day" and expect your employer to agree to it without question.

Your employer's suggestion that you terminate before Christmas and avoid paying you for the three statutory holidays is a little bit petty, but you asked for an early termination and they proposed a solution that works for them. Christmas holidays may not actually be the issue for them - they may just think you won't do any useful work in your last few weeks (understandably) and just prefer to cut the notice as short as they can.

The fix for this is actually easy, and doesn't involve you losing any wages. Call your new employer and ask if you can start earlier. Tell them you've been offered an earlier termination, and ask if you can start the day after your current employment ends. Most employers will agree to this, because having a new employee (who they want) start earlier is usually good for a company. They will get much more benefit from you than your old company will in that time. You may have to take a few days unpaid, maybe end right before Christmas and start right after. But hopefully that won't be a problem.

If the new employer agrees, accept the date your old employer is offering. If your new employer suggests a different start date, offer that date to your old employer and tell them why. They should be pretty understanding about you wanting continuous employment.

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    Thanks, I have actually mentioned that to my new employer and they are considering it... but it is so close to Christmas that it just doesn't feel fair on them. I am tempted to just ask my current employer if I can leave after Christmas and see what they say
    – user142816
    Commented Dec 7, 2023 at 17:55
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    If your last day is Christmas Eve, then that's exactly one week and one day between ending and starting. Are you really living paycheck to paycheck, without any safety net, so that six days without pay will break you? Commented Dec 7, 2023 at 21:25
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    It seems the OP wants to get the 2 weeks of vacations (with pay) and not having to work because these are holidays. Unfortunately, I don't think any employer wants a new employee to start 3 days before Christmas so that this new employee can get 2 weeks of free wage for the holidays from Noel to New Year, when he can be on vacation. Commented Dec 8, 2023 at 0:31
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    @user303096: Why would it be unfair to get your new employer to pay you over the Christmas break, but it wouldn't be unfair to get your previous employer to do the same? It seems to me that your observation is biased in favor of which employer's good graces you'd prefer to be in. And that's okay, but you do need to acknowledge here that asking any employer to pay you for time not work simply because you'd like to have the money is going to be a hard sell and is a bit cheeky to be honest. Why would any employer be inclined to do so when it nets them nothing in return?
    – Flater
    Commented Dec 8, 2023 at 3:22
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    Rereading the question, @DJClayworth, I think that the OP's current employer has a 2-week Christmas shut down, so the OP cannot work until 22 Dec, but probably only until 15 Dec. I would agree with other comments that asking my current employer for pay during a holiday shut-down period when they & I both know that I'm not coming back after the shut-down is a bit... cheeky. Maybe the new employer would agree to a start date of 18 Dec and OP can take 25 Dec and 1 Jan as holidays (possibly unpaid, depending on company policy), if he's that desperate for the cash.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Dec 8, 2023 at 15:48
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I take a different position to the other answers (so far). You stated:

[I] asked if it can just be 30 days notice so that I can start my new job in early Jan.

My CEO said that's fine and has basically said for HR to terminate my contract in mid-december

Taken as written, it appears that events happened in this order:

  1. You offered to terminate in 30 days instead of in 60 days.
  2. The company (acting with the authority of the CEO) accepted your offer.
  3. The CEO then instructed HR to to terminate in less than 30 days.

In England & Wales (and likely most other E&W-based jurisdictions such as Scotland, NI, etc.), a contract is formed any time there are three elements: consideration, intention, and agreement.

Consideration means each party receives something of value or gives up something detrimental. Here, you gave up 30 out of 60 days pay and received the right not to work for 30 out of 60 days. Conversely, the employer gave up the right to have your work for 30 days but received the right not to pay you for 30 days. Consideration is met.

Intention means that both parties intended for the agreement to be legally binding. There is a rebuttable presumption in commercial contexts that agreements are intended to be legally binding.

Finally, agreement means that one party made a clear offer and the other accepted it. In this case, that happened when your employer said yes to your request to terminate in 30 days. A common misconception is that agreements must be in writing and/or signed; that is not true for the vast majority of contracts (exceptions include contracts for the sale of land and some others). A written document or signature is simply evidence of the agreement but is not required - the agreement itself can be verbal or even based on non-verbal conduct.

A contract is formed the instant that an offer is accepted. Once formed, the employer cannot say "actually, I've changed my mind, we can do a 15 day notice period instead".

If, on the other hand, events did not transpire as stated, then the situation could be different. For example, if steps 2 and 3 above were merged into one (e.g. the CEO said "30 days should be fine, but I'll check with HR first") then there is no contract because your offer wasn't accepted unconditionally.

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  • Thanks, I probably wasn't very clear in my original post. I had merely enquired about reducing my notice period, my CEO is now claiming that it was set in stone that we had an agreement
    – user142816
    Commented Dec 9, 2023 at 11:17
  • Interestingly Scottish law allows a contract without consideration - i.e. a totally one sided contract. Probably not relevant to the question but an interesting variation.
    – neil
    Commented Dec 9, 2023 at 14:00

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