I currently work at a small company but have been very unhappy for a long time. As a result, I have accepted a job offer at another place.

I handed my notice in yesterday but my current employer said the company will likely fold if I leave. I felt bad but I've already signed the new contract so my hands are tied.

Can he sue me if that happens? I intend to work my notice period and do everything in my power to help the company survive (even work a few hours a week unpaid after I leave).

  • 11
    Why would he sue you ... You haven't done anything wrong, you're following procedure and everything. Furthermore he's trying to guilt you into staying its not your job to keep the company up and going. You have your family to think about, you're fine! Jun 2, 2016 at 10:08
  • 3
    @GautierC In the UK there is no requirement implied or otherwise to speak to anyone about your intention to leave. Indeed it is seen as somewhat stupid if you do, under most circumstances. The OP will now need to work their full notice period, which is likely to be at least one month. Therefore the employer has this long to find a replacement.
    – Marv Mills
    Jun 2, 2016 at 10:18
  • 36
    "even work a few hours a week unpaid after I leave" Do not do this. The behaviour you describe here is enough of a sign that this is a toxic workplace that you absolutely need a clean break from. Even if this wasn't the case, it's generally not a great idea to keep working for your old company during a time when you're already going to be stressed out. Work out your notice, be professional but create and enforce boundaries and don't even think twice about what's going on at Old Company once you're gone.
    – Lilienthal
    Jun 2, 2016 at 10:28
  • 2
    @GautierC I think you misunderstood. The OP intends to work through their required notice period, not leave immediately. It's not clear how long this is, but in the UK it may be up to several months.
    – user45590
    Jun 2, 2016 at 10:32
  • 12
    Don't work unpaid time after you leave. If you really desire to do some extra work in your notice period, you could opt to put in a few extra hours (to help write transitioning documentation, for example). But after your last day, the business relationship is concluded.
    – Brandin
    Jun 2, 2016 at 11:40

3 Answers 3


No he cannot. You are just an employee and they come and go. Your only responsibility is to comply with your contract.

As long as you work the correct notice as defined in your contract you are fulfilling your responsibilities towards this company.

As an aside, I would not work unpaid to help them after you have left. That cannot end well and may even prejudice your new employer against you if they found out (particularly if they are competitors).

  • 5
    +1 especially for the last sentence. Working extra, unpaid time for a company you've left sounds unprofitable for everyone.
    – sirdank
    Jun 2, 2016 at 13:07
  • 3
    Not to mention potential liability concerns when working unpaid time outside of your contract... At a minimum, would need to sign a new contract to establish the terms between you two. Otherwise, is opens up both parties to some very uncomfortable potential situations.
    – user17163
    Jun 2, 2016 at 13:19
  • 1
    Yeah the potential liability problems from additional unpaid work after your contract ends are huge: even if you do work unpaid, get a contract of some description, for both of your protection. Especially important if you work in some kind of health/safety related profession
    – Jon Story
    Jun 2, 2016 at 13:49
  • I agree, working unpaid and outside of contract even if you are "trying to help" is extremely dangerous since that is where the legal complications can arise. Employee contracts are rather standard etc. Personal help, partnership help, that's when things can get hairy.
    – SaltySub2
    Aug 20, 2018 at 9:04

If your contract states that you can leave after a certain notice period, then handing in your resignation and moving on after serving the notice period is entirely legal.

If the company folds because a single employee leaves, that's entirely the fault of the manager. Don't let him talk you into any guilt that's his.

Well, the fact that he tries it, shows us why you want to leave, though... congrats to your decision and your new job. If I were you, I would not help them after the notice period, with anything that takes more than five minutes (explaining where to find something is ok, coding for them is not).

  • 1
    Thanks for the answer, very reassuring. Another employee handed his notice in a week before me though so effectively, we'll be leaving at the same time. Does this make a difference? Jun 2, 2016 at 10:22
  • 8
    @Shbemployee It makes no difference whatsoever- It's just not your responsibility to ensure cover is available, it is the employer's.
    – Marv Mills
    Jun 2, 2016 at 10:28
  • In some types of employment it is not unknown for an entire team of people to be offered jobs by another company and all leave together. If their old company can't deal with the consequences, that's just tough.
    – alephzero
    Jun 2, 2016 at 14:01
  • "I would not help them after the notice period, with anything that takes more than five minutes...". Frankly, if the are so disorganized that you can't explain "where everything that you were working on is" before the end of your notice period, they don't deserve to waste any more of your life. If you get any phone calls or emails after you leave, a good strategy is refuse to answer immediately, but wait 24 or 48 hours before replying, and then send the shortest reply possible. They will soon get the message that "Alice doesn't live here any more".
    – alephzero
    Jun 2, 2016 at 14:06
  • 1
    If he's been very unhappy for a long time, and the manager didn't do anything about it, and didn't plan for his single and very unhappy employee to leave, that's doubly the managers fault. If they have problems, that's what contractors are there for. They can have a contractor starting tomorrow at an appropriate daily rate if they need someone that urgently.
    – gnasher729
    Jun 2, 2016 at 16:46

Unless you have deliberately tried to destroy the business, there is no reason why you could be sued.

If your contract says you can leave at any time, you can with no obligations.

  • 2
    Even if you deliberately picked the worst possible time to leave them, that's their problem.
    – gnasher729
    Jun 2, 2016 at 16:44
  • True @gnasher729 Jun 2, 2016 at 16:47

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