3 options when staff ignore the notice period

When an employee resigns and gives short notice instead of the period stated in the agreement, what are your options?
Can they just ignore the agreement? Can they just do this without consequences?
On the flip side, if you tried to cut their notice short, you’d have a personal grievance in your inbox in a palpitating second. This is always a disappointing and frustrating situation for employers.
You are right!
They’ve breached the agreement. But, if you make a big deal about it, you end up with a disgruntled employee in your business for the full notice period! They can get up to all sorts of mischief in the remaining weeks!
So, what can you do with this tricky situation?
Your 3 response options:


  1. Friendly – Grab the agreement and check all the clauses about termination and notice. Make sure you are 100% right about the period of notice. Then have a friendly conversation (or as friendly as you can manage under the circumstances!!!) about it. Try to find out why they think they can give short notice if the agreement says otherwise? Have the agreement there and show them the clause. Maybe they don’t even know this is a potential breach of the agreement? Tell the departing employee the impact of the shorter notice will have on you. You won’t have their replacement in place within that short time-frame, and their colleagues will be under pressure. Best outcome: the relationship stays intact while they work out the full notice. Worst case: they work shorter notice, knowing you could’ve gone after them for breach of agreement, but didn’t. You get to be right, if nothing else. This also sends a warning to other staff about your rights!

  3. Pissy – If you can, because it’s in the agreement, and if the relationship is already slightly strained, urge the departing person to work out their full notice. Tell them you may reconsider a positive future reference if they don’t, because they are breaching their agreement with you! Tell them you would have to share that fact with anyone who asks. This may do two things: Firstly, it may keep them in line during the notice, stop them doing stupid things to disrupt your workplace. Secondly, they’d work out the full notice, which is what you want. Downside: you end up with a person in your business who does not want to be there. Can you trust somebody who you are trying to restrict?

  5.  Shitty – I’d only suggest this option if the relationship is very strained, and there is the real potential of a personal grievance. As a ‘counter’ you could pursue them for breach of agreement. This is very uncommon, but not unheard of. It comes with a whole herd of risks, and costs.

For point 2 and 3, I’d recommend letting them go as quickly as possible. If they’re in a job which isn’t critical to the business it should be possible to cover for their absence, as you would if they were ill. If they are critical to the business, there is a danger they may cause harm during their final phase.
• If you have a valid forfeiture clause in the agreement, you may be able to deduct the notice not worked, from their final pay.
• If you find people constantly give you short notice, change the employment agreement and put in some potential penalties in place.
• Shorten the notice period, so you’re not constantly disappointed.
Every business loses employees to somebody else, but they also take employees from somebody else. We want our new staff to start as quickly as possible, but also seek to delay those going – who, it must be said, have changed their loyalty status already.
Sure – in the ideal world, everyone gives full notice, but the reality is they don’t!

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