I have been working at a software development company as a full-time developer here in the UK for the past 16 years. Recently I was told that those of us with one month notice periods stipulated in our contracts would have them changed to a "standard" three month notice period.

Whilst I understand why this is advantageous for the employer, it feels as though they are taking something from me (my availability to potential future employers, should I choose to leave), and thus I'm losing-out somehow.

I've read other questions on this site concerning employers extending notice periods, such as: Refusing increase of the notice period politely, and was wondering whether any software development managers reading this would think it rude, daft, or otherwise unprofessional to ask for a one-off payment of two months wages for the two months additional notice that I am being asked to accept?

I don't think my employer will be open to leaving the notice period as is, or negotiating a period of a different length, as there are other employees with three month notice periods, and I think they are trying to standardise on this internally.

I am aware that my employers could, of course, choose to end my contract if I refuse to accept the new terms.

  • 2
    I don't think they can do anything if you refuse. I remember working at a company where one woman who'd been there forever got an hour for lunch when everyone else got 30 minutes (c. 250 employees) because she would never concede it and it was in her original contract
    – MattP
    Jul 12, 2015 at 17:07
  • 6
    You might want to talk with a lawyer and see whether they actually can terminate your contract for refusing to agree to changes to it. I wouldn't be surprised if that's illegal, or at least restricted. Jul 12, 2015 at 18:00
  • So what happens if you leave after 1-month? It just means you gave them 30 days to prepare, rather than what they prefer - which is 90. Considering that you could have left without any notice, and you did give 30 - I'd say you are in the clear. Tug of war in a way Jul 12, 2015 at 18:03
  • 3
    @Adel This is the UK
    – Pepone
    Jul 12, 2015 at 18:28
  • 3
    I have my doubts they can do this and you might want to check if it is legal. My previous company tried to enforce a change in sick day pay on current employees. They dropped the change after advice from their lawyer and instead implemented it only for new employees. You should maybe call ACAS and find out what your rights are it certainly seems from your post like your employer hasn't sought your 'agreement' to the change. gov.uk/your-employment-contract-how-it-can-be-changed/…
    – Dustybin80
    Jul 13, 2015 at 9:19

3 Answers 3


While it may not appear to be so, this is really just a case of renegotiating your contract. Your company is working an "assumed sale" model and hope you will just sign and accept it.

What you need to do, is decide what you want to do about this -- keeping in mind that any negotiation can fail, resulting in no agreement. The company should be keeping this in mind as well.

Do you want something in exchange for extending your notice period, and do you want it enough to walk away from the current offer? Alternative, are you offended by their hard sale tactic and think that issue is important enough to bring up and force them to offer you something?

As for looking daft, rude or unprofessional -- you are negotiating a contract, asking for more money is a perfectly reasonable response.

Also worth noting is that the EMPLOYERs statutory required notice period automatically increases each year after the 2nd, but not the EMPLOYEEs notice period.

Update: The UK High Court has recently ruled (Brown & another v Neon Management & another) that resigning with a 6 month notice period was effectively ACCEPTANCE of a contract change. I.e if the company changes the contract and you resign in protest, a 6 month notice period means you ACCEPT the terms of the new contract. While 3 months isn’t 6, it’s a lot closer than 1 is...

  • that's not how its works in the UK refuse to sign minor changes (and 1 m to 3m is a minor change) and you have frustrated the contract and are unemployed.
    – Pepone
    Jul 13, 2015 at 21:48
  • @Pepone: first off, I pointed out that they might fail to come to an agreement, secondly I don't consider 1m to 3m a minor change, and finally if it frustrates the contract that only puts the OP in a stronger negotiating position if he chooses to do so. With a non-frustrated contract he is obliged to stay the notice period, with one, he is free to walk away as soon as they refuse -- leaving them with no notice period, instead of the 3 months they want.
    – jmoreno
    Jul 13, 2015 at 23:14
  • The courts in the UK would though and moaning about 3 months vs 1 month is going to make your peers and boss think oh "he/she isn't one of us"
    – Pepone
    Jul 14, 2015 at 18:52
  • If I understand correctly: resigning with the agreed upon notice is acceptance of the new contract; you'd have to resign immediately to indicate you don't accept the change. Have I got that right?
    – BSMP
    Nov 11, 2018 at 7:59
  • @BSMP: no, resigning with the terms of the old contract would mean you don’t accept the new terms. Resigning with the new terms could be be interpreted as accepting the new terms. Which could be important for other clauses of the new contract. Say the new contract also cuts your pay by 10%, if you resigned with the new terms that would indicate acceptance of the pay cut.
    – jmoreno
    Jan 18, 2021 at 15:15

I think it's unprofessional to ask for a one off payment. The change of terms doesn't automatically result in a financial risk to yourself, their argument will be it gives you more security.

It's also hard to see how they could ethically make such a payment which is basically a bonus. If anything you would be better targeting a salary increase for the added commitment.

It can work to your advantage too, I was in the same scenario of 3 months notice, as a senior tech employee when I handed my notice in I was put on garden leave! It's not an uncommon notice period these days so other employers are more understanding.

  • 8
    The ethical justification for a one-time payment is simple: the contract change has value for the employer (else they wouldn't bother) but a burden for you. A bonus is the other way around, and therefore a fair and ethical compensation. I'm really surprised to that you consider a salary increase as more ethical; money is money.
    – MSalters
    Jul 13, 2015 at 15:02

Yes it doesn't give a very professional impression especially for a senior employee.

For a senior Employee in the UK 3 months is not unusual and as going from 1 months to 3 months you wouldn't stand a very good chance in court.

If you need to leave most employees will offer pay in lieu any how so what is the main issue here.

  • 1
    On the contrary, unless youre very senior (As in senior management) then I don't think a 3 month notice would be seen as reasonable, because it could seriously hinder your ability to seek new employment.
    – Dan
    Jul 12, 2015 at 19:18
  • @Dan how? it takes several months to normally find a new job and very few employers force you to work your 3 months - they will pay you off. V senior management would be on 6 months - the op has worked for them for 16 years
    – Pepone
    Jul 12, 2015 at 20:45
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    It has nothing to do with length of service or how long the job hunt takes, though. Your notice starts once you've found that job and without something in the contract, there's nothing whatsoever to say they'll let you go. The phrase to pay you off doesn't even make sense in this context - you'd need to pay them off, technically. The average company may not be prepared to wait 12 weeks for a Developer and that's the crux of it. And short of running a Fortune 100 I've not even heard of senior directors having 6+ month notice periods.
    – Dan
    Jul 12, 2015 at 21:03
  • @Dan the senior rnd guys at my first job where on 6 months
    – Pepone
    Jul 13, 2015 at 21:46

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