I have recently handed in my resignation. My contract states that I have a two month notice period, however, my manager has agreed we can determine a suitable date and that he will not hold me to the two months and that I should just work as long as it takes to hand over my work.

I have know that I would be leaving for some time (I have been waiting for background checks to be completed) so almost all of my work is documented and ready to hand over. As my work is very project based I don't have any day to day work to complete either.

All this is great, the perfect situation. However, I still need to set a start date at my new work. Currently they have said the end of September as they believed I had two months notice to work, there is a possibility this could be brought forward but it is not certain.

So my question is, if I have finished hand over and have no work to do but don't want to leave immediately due to the financial implications of not being paid for a several weeks before I start my new job what can I do? I realise the company can't force me to finish before my notice period is up, however, I don't want to be sat around with nothing to do.

  • This question is related but not a duplicate as OP has confirmed flexibility from both parties regarding his notice period.
    – Lilienthal
    Aug 17, 2015 at 8:42
  • You ask your manager? Also, are you sure you don't need that he will not hold me to the two months in writing?
    – user8036
    Aug 17, 2015 at 8:54
  • Agree with @JanDoggen - since the two month notice is written into your contract, any earlier end date agreed to by you and your manager should definitely be documented in writing, both for your protection and theirs. Otherwise, someone not involved in your conversations with your manager could perceive your "early" departure as a breach of contract, or on the flip side, your manager could get into trouble because some obscure rule requires them to pay you for the whole two months, since he didn't get the earlier end date in writing. Aug 17, 2015 at 17:00
  • If all else fails, look busy to minimize awkwardness on both sides. Aug 20, 2015 at 8:58
  • Why do you want to leave money on the table - your contractually owed that money
    – Pepone
    Apr 19, 2016 at 19:37

1 Answer 1


Contact your new employer to discuss your start date.

If, as you say, your start date has not actually been determined yet and you just set a ball-park date given your standard 2 months notice, just contact your new employer to see if they're open to having you start earlier. If they are, check with them how early is convenient for them, whether that's next week or at the start of September. There could be a number of organisational or administrative reasons why they can't start you earlier than a certain date but in most cases you should be able to move your start date up. You just need to ask. Do not commit to a start date at this point, just find out the possible range of dates. Also check how much time they need after you confirm a start date as preparing your personnel files or IT accounts could take a few days.

Once you have a range, go back to your manager and discuss whether your final day can be moved up as discussed, and suggest a day that you're comfortable with. You could go for the first possible date in the range your new employer gave or you can add in a few days buffer as a holiday. Then listen to what your manager says. Maybe there's some work still left to finish up. Maybe they want you around for an important day that's coming up but they're fine with you leaving after. You're in luck in that your manager sounds entirely reasonable so you should have no problem agreeing to a date that works for both of you.

There is no need to point out that your workload might be low until the end of your notice period as that's fairly typical for people nearing the end of the long notice periods that are common in Europe. If your manager brings it up, say that you'd prefer working until the day you suggested to ensure a smooth transition for all parties involved. It's unlikely that he'll try to push you out earlier than you want. He may not even be able to if he wanted but for the legal angle, you'd need to consult your contract and a local employment lawyer if you need to be sure that they can't end your notice period early.

  • Thank you for your reply. I am already in the process of doing this. Really my concern mainly centres around having no work to do for a small period of time. I guess, as you say, this is normal for someone working a long notice, I just didn't want to come across as taking advantage of the situation.
    – Matt
    Aug 17, 2015 at 8:45
  • Good answer, and if the new employer is amenable to you starting earlier than agreed, find out how much warning they need. I'd guess at least a week, so they can make plans for getting you onboard. Aug 18, 2015 at 1:09
  • @Carson63000 Good point, added that to the answer. (It's what I meant by "administrative reasons" but restating it made it a bit clearer.)
    – Lilienthal
    Aug 18, 2015 at 7:43
  • 1
    Hi thanks for the advice. I was able to negotiate a reasonable finishing date with my boss. Not the perfect solution for me but a compromise from both sides. Being open with my boss about the lack of work I had to do also helped make things easier. He understands my position and has been very accommodating.
    – Matt
    Aug 20, 2015 at 9:47
  • @Matt Good to hear that you managed to work out a compromise that all parties are happy with, thanks for the update and good luck with your new position.
    – Lilienthal
    Aug 20, 2015 at 10:32

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