Today I was informed that the start up that I work for is running out of money and cannot afford to pay me, and so I've been handed 1 month's formal notice. I've been assured that I'll receive my next pay cheque at the end of May, but the company will not have enough money to pay me in June.

My notice period is going to take me past my final pay cheque. Am I still expected to work until the end of my notice period?
Since I won't be paid for it I'm not planning to come back in to work after my final pay cheque. Is this illegal or could it even lead to a bad reference?

I live and work in the UK.

  • 11
    a) Lawyer b) No. No money == no work, independent of any notice periods.
    – deviantfan
    May 11, 2015 at 15:27
  • 10
    TBH, I'd be surprised if you ever see that May pay cheque and should plan accordingly. Citizens Advice Bureau in the UK gives excellent (and free) employment law advice. Well worth a visit. May 11, 2015 at 15:35
  • @deviantfan - That may be true in the US But it might have legal or financial complications in other countries. May 11, 2015 at 15:40
  • Regarding the reference? That's not something we can answer here. It's up to the people who get contacted to provide said reference.
    – GreenMatt
    May 11, 2015 at 15:44
  • 1
    @ReallyTiredOfThisGame Same in the UK if they don't pay you they have breached the contract. - you are not employed any more.
    – Pepone
    May 11, 2015 at 22:22

2 Answers 2


As DustyBin80 has showed, you should be paid in the UK for any time you work. The employer is asking you (possibly indirectly) to volunteer your time for the last month, and have explicitly said there is no money for June.

I am not a lawyer (although I am in the UK) , but in my opinion you CANNOT be forced to work the last month (it would be the very definition of slavery ).

As others have said, I would be sceptical of the May cheque, you might want to ask for that now and judge how long you stay based on that. You know they are going to crash so cover yourself NOW and start looking for a new job.

Reference : I wouldn't worry, the company will likely not be there anyway (and you'll have the next employer primed of the situation before they ask), most places these days only verify job title and dates, a real reference is likely to be something you solicit personally from someone before you go, if the company is dying people may be keen to help each other out.



Notice pay As well as statutory redundancy pay, your employer should either:

  • pay you through your notice period
  • pay you in lieu of notice depending on your circumstances

It doesn't seem from this that asking you to work unpaid is an option. However it might be the case that your redundancy notice period is much shorter than a full month. You need to look in your contract for that information.

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