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How Long Should Your Notice Period Be? (2020 Update)

How Long Should Your Notice Period Be? (2020 Update)

When you resign from a job, what often follows is a notice period. Click here to find out how long your notice period should be.

14th January 2020

When you resign from your job, you may want to leave immediately and never come back. But before you pack up your things and walk out for good, you should always check if you need to provide notice, and how long for. Whether you want to avoid awkwardness or haven’t had the greatest experience with your employer, leaving suddenly and abruptly isn’t just unprofessional – it may also be illegal.

Providing notice means that your employer will have time to find your replacement, and you’ll have time to wind everything up. You’ll also increase your chances of leavings things on a good note and carrying a glowing reference with you for future job applications. In this article, we’ll discuss what notice periods are and provide a guide on how long they should be.

Notice periods

Resigning from your job isn’t an easy thing to do. However, what happens after this is isn’t always easy either. The time between when you hand in your resignation and actually finish up at your job is called a ‘notice period’. Notice periods apply both when you resign or when you are terminated by your employer. However, notice periods vary depending on your employment type, national laws and the terms of your employment agreement.

Notice periods are the period of time between when an employee resigns and when they actually stop working. In this time, an employee will finalise any outstanding matters and prepare to handover – this is why resigning from your job is often referred to as ‘handing in your notice’. A notice period is beneficial to both an employer and employee, albeit for different reasons.

Not working through your notice period

Sometimes employees do not work out their notice period. This is either due to the preference of the employer or at the employee’s request. If the employer decides that the employee should not work out their notice, they still need to be remunerated. This is in addition to any outstanding annual leave entitlements.

If you do not want to work through your notice period, you may be able to take it as annual leave. However, you can only do this with the consent of your employer. This time will be deducted from the annual leave entitlements previously owed to you. If your employer does not consent to this, it is ill-advised to ‘refuse’ to work out your notice period. Ending your employment on bad terms may ‘burn bridges’ and you’ll risk not receiving a decent reference from your employer. Your employer may even be able to take legal action against you for breach of contract (however, they will more likely choose to simply not pay you for this time).

What is the general length of a notice period?

Notice periods can vary anywhere from being ‘no notice’ to a month or more. Your required notice period will depend on:

  • Your type of employment
  • How long you have been working for your employer
  • The terms of your contract 
  • Your industry
  • Your award
  • The reasons for termination
Author
Jackie Olling

Jackie is the Content Manager at Lawpath and manages the content team. She has a Law/Arts (Politics) degree from Macquarie University and is an admitted solicitor in the Supreme Court of NSW. She's interested in how technology can help shape the future legal landscape.