My wife recently accepted a new job offer at a different organisation, and she's wondering if she is obligated to serve out her notice period (in this case, 7 months) if her manager already gave her written approval to leave earlier (in 4 months). The sequence of events is as follows: 

  1. After accepting the new job offer, she then immediately informed her current, direct line manager of her decision to leave.  
  2. In their verbal discussions, he indicated he would be fine with her leaving at the 4 month mark.  
  3. She then wrote an email to him to confirm their verbal discussion, double checking that he was fine with her leaving at the 4 month mark.
  4. He responded in a written email saying "this should be okay from my point of view."
  5. She acted on this written confirmation to then inform her new employer of her start date to coincide with her end date at her current employer.  
  6. The next day, the HR team wrote to my wife to inform her that actually, in her contract, it stipulates that she has to serve until the end of the calendar year of her notice of resignation.  

Do you think she would have reasonable grounds (legally) to argue that her line manager gave her written approval, so that should supersede her contract?  Or is that not going to fly? 

Her preference is to leave earlier, by the 4 month mark.  I'd welcome your input on any strategy you could recommend for her to get them to adhere to the date her manager originally agreed, overriding the terms of her contract.  Thank you so much. 


duplicate_account_MarkAus's picture

I'm no lawyer but I'd bet the written contract is the enforceable contract - and not the the non-specific amendment by the manager.   The verbiage in point #4 is clearly designed to cover the manager's butt.  He should have said "this needs to go through proper channels, I'll let you know."   Unfortunately, the way it reads now is "I do not oppose this, but ultimately it is not my decision".

However, I would hope your company would be reasonable with you if you explain what you've said above.   The company should understand that their manager is a representative of the company and that your wife acted in good faith on his advice.  

Frankly however, your wife's enthusiasm to move on probably caused her to be less cautious around that response than she should have.   To my mind this is like accepting a job offer before you get the documentation (you accept a lot of risk by doing that).   She should have waited for the formal company response before acting.   I know that comment doesn't help you, but your current company will likely argue along those lines.

Whatever you do keep the new employer informed of developments in a timely fashion. 

Good luck!


jpl980's picture


Thanks so much for your candid input on this. Everything you shared here makes complete sense, and I'm inclined to agree with your views even though it ultimately may not be what my wife wants to hear.  I do think her manager left himself an "out," and given that this is written in her contract, she may be stuck.  

I'm still shocked at some of the notice periods here in the UK.  In her situation, because she informed them of her resignation 10 working days after the cutoff, her notice period extended from being 3 months to 7 months.  It seems crazy to have 2 weeks past the cutoff date equate to 15 weeks additional weeks of notice period time.

It's helpful to get your perspective here.  On a side note, I've been listening to your casts for years now, including your Interview Series, which I also shared with my wife.  I find your advice to hit the nail on the head nearly every single time across various companies and settings.  I can't thank you enough for all your guidance you've provided me over the years, which has served me well during my 10-year stint in brand management.

The work you guys do is invaluable.   Thank you.