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I am in full term employment in the UK. My notice period set out in my contract is 3 months. There is no probation period (I know this is unusual). I have only been working for 10 weeks and have handed in my notice. My employer is insisting I work for the full 3 months to hire my replacement. There is someone else in my team at the same level who does the same job. Do I have any options to work a shorter notice period?

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There is nothing in employment law which allows for a unilateral reduction in a notice period in a contract, and UK employment law does recognise non-statutory notice periods as valid.

Your options are either to negotiate an early release with your employer, or just walk.

Just walking does come with potential issues as its a breach of contract - however, you can weigh up the repercussions of this approach. Breach of contract would need to be pursued by the employer in court, which means a substantial outlay for them for potentially very little - the court wont force you to go back to work for them, they might award damages tho to the amount that the company might have lost due to your breach.

So the question is, are they likely to do this? If you just started, then the company isn't likely to be able to prove that you are a key employee on which their entire existence is based, in which case their damages would probably be negligible - potentially anything they paid to a recruiter to either recruit you or replace you (or potentially both). If the company can prove that they would lose a significant contract because you left before the end of your notice period, then they might have a case for larger damages.

If you walk, do not expect a reference from that employer - in the UK, its legal for an employer to supply a negative but true reference (many people think this is not true, but recent tribunal cases have shown its perfectly acceptable to be truthful but negative so long as you aren't being vindictive).

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Yes

You can pay your employer out. Pay in lieu of notice is usually done by employers but it can operate the other way. If you pay your employer 3 months salary you don’t have to work a day of the notice period.

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  • Paying out isnt a normal thing in the UK - typically you either negotiate with your employer for an early release, or you just walk. – Moo Mar 11 '20 at 20:40

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