I have resigned from an organisation, and am currently in the notice period. I don't have any interest in working during the notice period. Is this ethical?

I have already quit the job and have to stay here 1 more month, so is it ok to be lazy?

Anyway I'm leaving, and certainly have no interest in working. Also this is an organisation that I didn't like working for, from the start, just wanted to get out somehow from the beginning.

  • 25
    In my experience, giving your very best even when it is not expected of you, is usually good advice. You didn't like working for them? But you wanted their money? Assume you were at the other side, the person paying such an employer? May 19, 2017 at 10:13
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    You know it's not ethical. So what are you really asking us? Do you want to skip going to work altogether? Do you want to go to work and play on your phone all day? Or are you willing to put in a minimum amount of work at least? May 19, 2017 at 10:41
  • 2
    Lets turn this around: "My company wants to fire me without honoring the notice period, is this ethical?"
    – kat0r
    May 19, 2017 at 11:56
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    The company is still paying you to be there, you should still be working for your money.
    – Colin
    May 19, 2017 at 11:57
  • 5
    Voting to close as unclear what you're asking. It appears that you already know the answer, so why are you asking us?
    – Masked Man
    May 19, 2017 at 12:14

7 Answers 7



It's not ethical. You were acting of your own free will when you signed the contract that now makes you stay another month. It's not a hardship or their doing. You did that.

In addition, you still get paid. You'd be the first to complain if the company would take the same stance ("he's leaving anyway, why hold up our side of the contract").

The ethical way would be to talk to your company. Notice periods are contractual. Any contract can be changed if both parties consent. If your company allows it, you could have a shorter notice period or none at all.

Long story short: keep your promises. Especially those you gave in writing. Breaking them because you don't felt like keeping them in the first place is not ethical at all.

  • 11
    I love this answer, the only thing I would add is that if this is contractual, that the company may sue the OP if they leave early. All in all, work the notice, don't risk a law suite or burning a bridge. YMMV
    – Neo
    May 19, 2017 at 11:45
  • +1, it is worth noting that people can be legally dismissed in their notice period in certain circumstances. For the sake of a month it doesn't seem worth the risk.
    – Dustybin80
    May 19, 2017 at 12:16
  • +1 Except for the first paragraph. “You were acting of your own free will when you signed the contract that now makes you stay another month. It's not a hardship or their doing. You did that.” That freedom you are talking about can be discussed.
    – Manuel
    May 19, 2017 at 13:08
  • @Manuel if that freedom was not given (or at least the freedom saying "no thanks, I don't sign that if it includes a one month notice period") then it really is a case for a criminal investigation, not "The Workplace".
    – nvoigt
    May 19, 2017 at 13:11
  • @nvoigt Not freedom in that sense, it was more of a philosophical comment. Older people were “free” to sign the purchase of preferred stock (yet they were cheated and robbed at least in some countries), and women are “free” to carry a pregnancy for another person (but wether that's freedom…), and for example you are usually going to sign a contract similar to what you see around you that might be quite different from what you would sign in another country; so you are “free” to an extent. The answer is still right, but I think that paragraph is unnecessary (and, in depth, debatable).
    – Manuel
    May 19, 2017 at 13:19

While I fully understand where the lack of motivation comes from I have to say that indulging it to the point where you're not working is unethical. If you were asking about refusing to do overtime (paid or unpaid) then that would be different, I don't think many people would expect an employee working out their notice to be going an extra inch, let alone an extra mile, but your question reads as referring to your normal duties. You know, that thing that they pay you for. Imagine the flip side of this question (from the employer's perspective):

An employee has resigned from the organisation, and is currently in the notice period. I don't have any interest in paying them during the notice period. Is this ethical?

They have already quit the job and have to stay here 1 more month, so is it ok not to pay them?

Anyway they're leaving, and I certainly have no interest in paying them. Also this is an employee that I didn't like working for us, from the start, just wanted to get rid somehow from the beginning.

See what I mean?

From a pragmatic point of view you have to consider that how you behave during your notice period may still affect your references and depending on your location and industry potentially your professional reputation as well. Is it really worth risking compromising any of that for sake of one month more of working there and being professional?

Remember that unless you have a lot of handover to do or projects that you are expected to complete in that time your workload will naturally tail off towards the end of that month anyway.

  • 2
    I like the quote flipped from employee's view to employer's view. Makes things absolutely clear.
    – Thern
    May 19, 2017 at 11:46
  • 3
    I had a junior who basically refused to work during his notice period. We came very close to firing him (and telling his new employer we had done so). Having been fired for laziness could be seriously damaging for your future career (I certainly wouldn't hire anyone who I knew that had happened to.) May 19, 2017 at 11:54
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    I like the last sentence.
    – cst1992
    May 19, 2017 at 12:44

The problem this will bring is burning bridges.

More than likely you will get another job (I hope) and will need references. What happens when they ask for a reference from you last company? It is the same for being lazy, when future companies ask for references, the last month of your laziness will stick in your previous employers mind. It is not worth it.

Best advice is to stick it out for the last month, keep your head up and knuckle down. A month will fly by and you will not jeopardise any future endeavours.


Not only non-ethical but also illegal. You are still oblidged to fulfill your contract. The company has full rights to expect from you engagement and performance.

Reluctance to perform your tasks gives your organization the rights to terminate your contract because of negligence. Being fired is a red light in your career, it also means, you have no right for positive certificate (Arbeitszeugnis).

P.S. because you haven't given your location, I assume it's Germany, but most aspects should be similar in other countries.

  • 1
    Many companies (in the UK) would just let you slack out your notice rather than go through the hassle of firing you when they're going to be rid of you anyway. Of course they have to weight up the costs (not all financial) of both options
    – Chris H
    May 19, 2017 at 12:47

Ethical, no, but it may be practical and pragmatic.

If you knowingly agreed to a notice period, then it's unethical to just discard it for your own purposes. However, this is actually done fairly often. It's not a huge deal usually and many businesses will march an employee off the premises as soon as they quit or are fired without having an amicable notice period.

My advice is to focus on your future not the company which you are leaving and do what is best for yourself. Serving a notice period can be beneficial, but usually only if it's an agreeable situation.

I've left more than one job with zero notice and waving a finger at all and sundry, never lost any sleep over it. There is a difference between formal ethics and personal ethics, while it is ok for some to overstep the first, if you overstep the second it's a downward spiral.

  • 2
    "I've left more than one job with zero notice and waving a finger at all and sundry, never lost any sleep over it." You might have lost respect from people in the field who know about it though. That just seems like a really bad idea, even from a personal standpoint. You never know who you're going to end up working with years down the road.
    – JMac
    May 19, 2017 at 13:02
  • @JMac I did end up working with two of them years later, I employed them, they didn't mention the finger waving at all. Obviously you weigh up your options and consequences before you do something like that. My reputation went very high in the industry after doing it and I took half their major clients.
    – Kilisi
    May 20, 2017 at 4:03

The 'ethical' part has been answered in other answers, but I think what you're really asking is 'help me get out of here with the least amount of trouble/pain/hardship/time wastage/...'.

I suggest you ask them if they're willing to accept a month's salary as compensation for leaving early. This is sometimes preferred if you have another company willing to accept you during that period, and it is better for you to work for them instead.


It's absolutely not ethical, and you should finish up your work while you are still employed, which will likely include some training for your replacement (possibly) and filling people in on what you do so that there isn't a gap in your work when you leave - the benefit to you for this is continuing to get paid, and keeping a good rapport with the company for future career opportunities.

However...you should have some vacation time saved up from your time working for the company - so with permission from your manager, you could 'leave' early - just make sure you run this by your manager first, for the above reasons, and because doing otherwise would definitely be unethical.

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