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What To Do When Staff Quit Without Notice

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Typically when an employee resigns there will be a minimum of a one week notice period, this is called a statutory notice period. Staff are required to give a one week notice period if they have been working in your employment for one month or longer.

Alternatively you may have outlined in your employment contract a ‘custom’ notice period of longer than one week, this can be much longer than a week, lasting up to several weeks and is known as a contractual notice period. For this reason it is important to clearly outline in your contract terms the notice period that suits your business needs.

It may seem like a good idea to detail a long notice period in your contracts of employment so you feel more secure, but consider these repercussions:

  • Tying staff into a role which they do not want to continue doing will likely result in poor performance and affect your company standards
  • Tying staff into a long notice period will not stop them from suffering a sudden bout of ‘illness’ that can conveniently last up until the notice period

An unexpected resignation

When a member of staff quits without working their applicable notice period this constitutes a breach of contract. This situation will almost always create frustration and added tensions within your business but ultimately you can’t physically force an employee to show up to work.

Your reaction to someone you employee leaving without working their correct statutory or contractual notice period should be dependent on the impact that this had on your business.

Notice pay & final pay

A breach of contract of this type can affect the amount of notice pay and final salary which you ultimately pay out.

Despite the manner in which the member of staff left you will still need to pay them for any part of their notice period that they did in fact work. You might also have to pay the person in question for any part of their notice period that they were willing to work if you declined for them to do so.

If the member of staff quits without working the required notice period then you can deduct money from their final salary if you have included in your contract of employment a specific clause regarding this circumstance. In this eventuality you can also cover the amounts which are equal to any costs which were incurred by the employee not working the full notice period.

Calculate costs incurred for covering the member of staff’s work by paying overtime or temporary staff and then subtract that against savings made from not paying the employee.

If you don’t have a specific clause in your contract that covers your costs for a member of staff not working their notice you can’t take the costs out of their final pay but you can pursue these additional costs through the courts.


You may be very tempted to write a bad reference in retaliation to the person who is resigning and has left your business in the lurch. Under the Data Protection Act your former employee may be able to obtain a copy of this reference and should the reference you wrote contain inaccuracies and result in a job offer falling through they may choose to take the claim to a tribunal.

To avoid the risk of a tribunal you should only write accurate information in the reference which is true and fair. You are allowed to state in the reference that the employee left without working their full notice period if that is the case.

Do what’s best for your business

Handling the stress of someone leaving without working the proper notice can really affect your business whether it means you have to hire temporary staff, get others to work overtime or just do the work yourself. If you have any questions on what to do next after someone quits or how you can reclaim the cost, call our free employer helpline today on 0161 115 6164 for impartial expert advice.

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