This article is a laundry list of FAQs regarding notice periods. It covers the definition, who, what, when, where and why, plus scenario-specific questions job applicants are likely to have.
Questions are organised in logical order - skim read the headings.
If you cannot find what you need CTR+F or CMD+F to find specific keywords. Cheers.
About Your Notice Period
What is the Notice Period?
The notice period is the time you have to give your current employer before you leave your current job. The notice period is your contractual obligation to work for the company (or entity) after you resign and declared your intention to leave.
Usually, the notice period is presented in the following manner:
- In days, weeks or months: For example, 2 Weeks
- A specific date: 24/08/21
Employees have to "give notice" of 2 weeks (for example) before they leave their job or compensate 2 weeks of salary in lieu if they leave the job immediately. Notice periods work both ways, so if your boss wants you to leave, he needs to give you the same notice period or pay you instead. Exceptions apply.
Where Can I Find My Notice Period?
If you do not know the notice period of your current job, there are two options.
- You can either ask your current company (through HR), or
- Refer to your own employment contract which you have signed before you started work.
How is the Notice Period Important to Employees?
Knowing your notice period is a necessity as part of career planning. If you intend to work elsewhere, being aware of your notice period allows you to prepare for the transition into the new job, even before you exit your current company.
How does Notice Work? How to State Notice on Job Applications?
Notice is a practical aspect to the employment contract, so it is best to explain it with a detailed example.
Here is a scenario to elaborate on how employees can give notice before they quit and join a new company:
This is an example on how notice period works and how you can state your notice period on your job application form.
- You are working for Company A today, 01/08/21.
- You apply for a new job at Company B, and went for the interview two days later on 03/08/21.
- In the job application form, you are asked about your notice period. Printed on the application is "NOTICE PERIOD: ________".
- Here, you have to propose a start date to begin your first day of work at Company B because you still hold a job at Company B.
- Since you know that your notice period with Company A is 2 weeks, you understand that the earliest you can start work at Company B is 17/08/21.
- You write "2 WEEKS" on the job application form.
- Then, you go for the interview as planned.
- Fortunately, Company B found you as a good fit and offered you a position a week later on 10/08/21.
- As per your suggestion, both you and Company B can agree for you to start employment 2 weeks from the job offer - i.e. 24/08/21
- You then can proceed to resign from Company A that same day on 10/08/21. Submit your resignation letter to your superior to inform them that you've quit.
- You give 14 days' notice, from 10/08/21 to 23/08/21, inclusive of both dates.
- The official last day of work at Company A is 23/08/21.
- Before you leave on the 23rd, you need to return all company property, attend the exit interview and undergo the necessary out-processing procedures.
- Hooray! Follow up with your new employer, and begin your new job on 24/08/21 at Company B.
With good forward planning, you have an accurate estimate of how long it may take for you to leave your current job, and there will not be a long period where you are jobless with no income or salary.
How is the Notice Period Important to Companies?
Informing your superiors ahead of time allows them ample time to find a suitable replacement, organize any transitions for you and your colleagues, and avoid the minor discomforts of sudden unemployment. Further, having a clearly stated notice period allows companies to pay their leaving employees accurately without any dispute or discontentment.
Based on the previous scenario, here is an explanation of how employees will be paid:
- As the worker has given his full 2-week notice as per the requirement in his employment agreement, he remains entitled to pay during his last 2 weeks.
- If there are any benefits (such as allowances) and overtime, these have to be paid out as per usual.
- Unless there are specific clauses that are agreed upon, all salary and payments cannot be modified.
- We assume his pay is $2000 USD, with no overtime and benefits.
- Since the employee resigns on 10/08/21, and works until the last day on 23/08/21, he is paid $1000 USD.
This leads us to the next point.
Is My Notice Period the Same As My Colleagues?
Every employment offer is different. Under different economic circumstances and job markets, similar positions may vary the compensation package as well as the notice period within the offer itself. As a result, your colleagues' notice period is unlikely to be the same as yours.
Notice Period in Job Applications
How do I Indicate (What do I Write) My Notice Period in My Job Application?
In job applications that request for your current notice period, you should write the earliest date which you can start work at the new job. The date you indicate as your notice period is also the same desired start date with you are okay to begin at the new job.
Present it in the DD/MM/YY format to be clear in communicating your desired start date.
If the job application asks you for the number of days or weeks, you can indicate the actual number should you choose to serve out the whole notice period or you can indicate a shorter one if you are giving less notice.
Here are examples of what you can write on the application form:
- Example 1: 17/08/21
- Example 2: 2 Weeks
- Example 3: Available Immediately
In example 1, the specific date is the earliest where you can start work.
In example 2, you have stated you have 2-week notice period and can start only after. If the job is offered later on, the interviewer will have to take the date of offer and add 14 days to know the exact date you can join them.
In example 3, your immediate availability means that you are unemployed currently and that you can start work with no notice required.
You can indicate the notice period in your resume. Informing potential employers at an earlier stage allows them to determine if your timeline suits them and avoids wasting time attending interviews that won't work out in anyone's favour.
Why Does My Next Employer Want My Notice Period?
The first reason why your potential employer wants to find out your notice period is to anticipate your start date at their company. Knowing when they can expect you to join their company if you are offered the position helps in arranging for orientation and handing over workload/assignments.
The second reason why your potential employer wants to know your notice period is to avoid having to replace you halfway through a project or at the middle of a critical project. Scheduling another replacement in the middle of an ongoing project is disruptive and can mean that important deadlines will be missed.
A third reason is that the notice period further gives your potential employer a rough timeline of when they can expect your definite decision on any potential offers. The notice period you give should coincide (match with) their job opening deadline.
The fourth and final reason is that if the position needs to be filled urgently, the company will not be able to accept applicants with a long notice period. Companies will not be able to wait for these applicants to serve out their notice before they formally join, so such applicants are filtered out of the shortlist.
Does My Current Notice Period Affect Chances at an Offer?
A longer notice period reduces your chances of an offer.
A month's notice compared to a week's notice has a definite impact on the number of job offers you will be getting.
As employers are looking to fill vacancies quickly and put talent to work, if you are giving them a long notice period and you can only start much later, they are unlikely to give you serious consideration. You may be eliminated for the cause of a longer notice length.
Why Do Some Jobs Have A Shorter or Longer Notice Period?
The higher your level of responsibility and tougher the job requirements, the more important you are to the company and the more difficult you are to replace. So having a longer notice period for key positions is not surprising.
Therefore, you should choose your next job and watch out for the terms in the job. You do not want to be restricted and bound by conditions you one day regret, but at the same time the job should be compelling and lucrative (it should pay well) for you to continue working at their offices.
Should I Leave the Question about Notice Period on Job Applications Blank (or Skip It)?
Leaving the fill-in-the-blank on your notice period with your present employer empty or unanswered is likely to draw the interviewer's attention (not good!), and leave them wondering why you have left it blank.
Asking for your notice period is purely for practical reasons - to know the earliest date you can start and whether to give you new projects, etc.
Answering the question on your current notice period is voluntary. If you are not comfortable declaring it, your best option is to answer 'available'. You don't need to write down your notice period on job applications if you really don't want to. You are not forced to answer it as a compulsory question.
Can I Change My Notice Period (or Reduce It)?
Your notice period can be changed if both the employee and employer legally agrees.
- The change should be agreed in writing - physically or digitally
- A shorter notice means that the employee will receive less pay for working less. Employers similarly pay less.
- If there is a disagreement or dispute in the change of notice period, neither party can unilaterally agree to the new arrangement (cannot be one party agree, and the other party says no - this is a no-go)
If you have decided that you want to start at a new job earlier than your current notice period allows, or that you need to start earlier in order to further your career prospects, you should reduce your notice period and serve a shorter notice at your present employer.
Do be informed that if you serve a shorter notice or give no notice, you will need to buy out the difference in the notice period and you also lose out on the salary during this period (see the FAQ question on that below). The financial cost to shorten your notice is likely not worthwhile, and most employees would rather not reduce their own notice to start somewhere else just a few days earlier.
What Happens if I Leave My Job Before the End of My Notice Period?
If you serve less time at your current employer than you were supposed to, you fall into one of three scenarios:
- Job Abandonment - When your contract specifies that you are paid for work during the notice period, but you leave, then you are considered to have abandoned your job. Your previous employer had agreed to pay you and held to their end of the agreement but you failed to hold up your part of the agreement by not working. As such, you would be in breach of your employment contract. Your previous employer can sue to recover the money they have lost because of you leaving before the end of your notice period. In many cases, this can be a costly financial loss for the employee, especially if they are leaving for a better job offer. If employers choose to follow through with legal action and recover their money, then you may on the hook to pay for their legal fees as well.
- Calling In Sick - If you report sick, and even with a legitimate doctor's note, you are still considered an existing employee. Thus, your work obligations do not change and you are still required to serve your notice period until the last day. You are not allowed to work for another employer in the meantime during your sick day since you can't be sick when dealing with your ex-employer and perfectly healthy when interacting with the new boss.
- Resigning From Job Without Any Notice - If you choose to tender your resignation letter to your employer and leave immediately, it is a voluntary leaving and not abandonment. On the spot, you no longer have any contractual obligations to the employer. However, you will need to buy out your notice period. Do also be aware that resigning without serving your notice can be a time bomb for future employee references. You may be leaving because you are unhappy with something at the workplace or that you are not satisfied with your job and the employer may wonder if you would do the same thing to them in the future.
How Do I Calculate My Notice Period?
To calculate your notice period is relatively straightforward. Most employment contracts and company policies clearly state the notice period (no need for calculation) or the minimum notice time required of employees.
The minimum notice period may be calculated as follows:
- 1 month's salary for every year of work completed at that workplace; or
- 8 weeks' salary for every completed year of work; or
- 40 hours a week multiplied by number of weeks in a month, depending on which calculation gives you the larger amount.
This can change depending on the country you work in.
Will I Get Paid During My Notice Period?
Yes, you are paid. Notice period counts as service - you continue to do your job, deliver output and results as per your employee contract. Since you still do the required work asked of you, you get paid during the notice period. There should not be any pay reduction or change in hours of work unless you have agreed to it.
Can An Employer Cut My Pay?
The employer is not allowed to reduce pay, withhold or refuse to pay because of issues regarding notice period, unless there is sufficient cause through a workplace investigation.
If there is suspicion of wrongdoing or illegal activity, employees may be suspended during an ongoing inquiry.
Does Working During Notice Reduce Employee Benefits?
During the notice period, the contractual should stay the same unless there are specific clauses in your employment contract that says otherwise. The most common change in employee benefits is that resigning employees are unable to clear leave. This means that any unused annual leave and unclaimed off-days are either forfeited (you lose it) or encashed (converted to $ and added to your final paycheck).
What is the Typical Employee Notice Period?
An acceptable notice period varies among employers and industries. Usually, the longer you have been working for a company and the more senior a position that you hold in that company, the longer your notice period will be.
The notice period in some countries is as low as one month or even shorter. However, in most countries, it is three months or more. A 3-month notice period is legal in countries such as United States, Indonesia and Singapore, when the period is mutually agreed upon.
Can My Employer Increase My Notice Period?
Your present employer cannot force you to stay extend your stay at the company. They also cannot unilaterally extend your notice period (make you stay without asking permission from you).
However, if you are doing a good job or are proven as a necessity to operations, and the employer would like to retain you as an employee, they may be willing to go beyond the original notice period to ask (not demand) for you to stay. Only when you agree to their request, can your employer increase your notice period. Otherwise, your notice period remains unchanged.
How Can I Reduce My Notice Period Without Paying Anything?
There are three ways to reduce your notice period without any financial cost.
The first way is to resign and start at the new job the very next day, using salary from the new job to pay off notice from the first job. During these interim days, the pay you get is paid to your ex-employer. Your net income is close to zero.
The second way is to take a leave (e.g. childcare leave, annual leave, sick leave and other leaves). You may need to see a doctor at your own expense if insurance does not cover you. For annual leave and other similar leave, do check your contract or with HR if you are prohibited from taking leave as a resigning employee.
The third way is to negotiate with your employer to waive the notice period. If both the employee and employer agrees to dismiss the notice requirement, the notice period may be reduced or eliminated entirely. Employees can serve less of their notice period or if agreed, serve none, and thus have no further contractual obligations. Likewise, employers do not have to pay for further costs in relation to this specific employee.
Buying Out Your Own Notice Period
Paying for your own notice period is called "buying out your notice period" or paying salary in-lieu. It is the industry norm to pay for all or part of your notice period and it is advisable to attempt negotiation first.
The cost of buying out varies widely among companies, countries, industries and employees. The whole issue may be a sensitive one for certain employers. Be very careful when dealing with companies with strict policies and make sure that you get all the relevant details before you get into a legally binding contract.
When you buy out your notice period, you lose out on your salary which would have been paid to you. Instead, you pay your employer for the notice period you did not serve.
What is "furlough" and what is the difference between "furlough" and serving out my notice period?
A furlough is a period of time in which employees are not allowed to work because the employer has too many staff members. This is usually due to economic conditions, like when too many employees are hired, and most of the company's business has dropped off. In an effort to control costs, companies lay off employees during furloughs. However, any employees who are laid off are still allowed to be paid their usual salary for a specified amount of time if the layoff is due to economic conditions.
Furlough is different from a notice who is currently serving notice because there is no furlough in this case. Furloughs terms are set out in a fresh contract between the employer and the employee while notice terms are already established through the dated employment contract.
Can I Look For Jobs During My Notice Period?
You can look for new jobs during notice period but you have to abide by the current terms of your contract. In most cases, if the employer agrees and the new job will be beneficial for the company, you should not decline the offer.
How Does My Employer Re-Hire Me During My Notice?
Most countries treat a notice period as an interruption in your employment contracts starting from when you served your notice period until when you actually start working again. What this means is that it is unnecessary to re-sign the contract or extend the validity of the original contract. You start working again as if you never left (as if your leave did not interrupt your service).
If, after you have served notice, and before you have started work at the new job, your employer offers another position within their company (another job altogether), they should ask for a new signed contract.
Can I Be Employed By Another Company During My Notice Period?
You cannot be employed by a new company or be employed by multiple companies at once. If you are found to be working for a new company, you could be charged with a breach of contract.
Can I Terminate My Employment During My Notice Period?
As a resigning employee, you do not have the legal ability to leave your job. You cannot leave your employment and start working for another employer before the notice period ends and you complete your final day of work in the company. The same rule also applies to employers who want to terminate their employees without going through a due process. If you terminate employment on your own, you are deemed to have abandoned your job.
What are the Reasons for Giving Notice?
You may need more time to plan and prepare before you can start a new job. You may need more time to research the market for a new job and finish making needed arrangements for your family before you leave your current job.
If you work in the government sector, giving notice can be mandatory. If you are working in the civil services of many countries, giving notice is required so that there is time to train your replacement. In private and public corporations, giving notice is required by law in many.
If you receive a counteroffer from your current employer, you should give them time to consider it before you completely resign. In some cases, an employer may make a counteroffer because they want to keep an employee who is good at his job.
It is best to discuss the terms of the counteroffer with your potential new employer first so that they do not think that you are trying to steal employees or trying to avoid negotiating a settlement with your current employer.
How Can I Tell My Employer That I Want to Give Notice?
Wait for the employer to ask you to resign (e.g. give a letter of resignation) and then serve enough notice to pay off your notice period.
If you do not receive an offer or no job after serving notice, but you decide to resign anyway, negotiate with the employer to pay for all or part of your notice period and then continue working until the end of your notice period.
If you do not receive an offer or want to resign but still need to serve notice, you can ask the head office if they will hire you for a part of your notice period (e.g. 3 months full-time, 2 months part-time). If they agree to it, serve your notice and "buy out" the rest of your notice period.
Samples to Use: To Give Notice
If you will be giving a 2-week notice period for resignation, the following sample clauses can be used to put in your letter of resignation or in your employment contract:
I hereby resign from my current job effective immediately and give notice for two weeks. I understand that this is a legally binding agreement. If the company decides to waive the notice period, it will be fully compensated for any losses incurred by my sudden resignation. If the company decides to pressure me to leave earlier, I should be given an additional two weeks of salary as compensation for my notice period loss.
Are There Jobs Without Notice Period?
All jobs are required to have a specific notice period agreed by the employee and employer. This can be anywhere from 1 day to 6 months, but typical notice periods are 2 weeks, 1 month and 3 months. If your job does not state a notice period, most jobs stick to a 2-week duration or are based on an oral agreement if you do not give any notice to leave your job.
When Is the Notice Period Effective?
Notice periods start when you submit your resignation letter. The start date can be on a weekend or public holiday as the 2-week period counts 14 calendar days including non-working days. Employers usually start counting from the day of resignation if you give notice without a specific date, but it can also be counted from the last day you work at a company. In most cases, your notice period is triggered on your last day of work and your employer counts it from that date.
Awkwardness During the Notice Period
Feeling awkward is perfectly common and normal as your colleagues and boss have already expected you to leave and you may not feel comfortable working the same way. To reduce awkwardness in the office environment, you can concentrate on preparing the designated person replacing you and make sure that the transition takes place smoothly. This allows you to make your colleagues feel comfortable with your leaving.