I need your view on below situation:

I have received a permanent job offer (geography: United Kingdom), which includes a 3-months notice period clause. There's also an unusual clause stating that the employer may claim damages if the employee don't serve the complete notice period.

Is it common in permanent roles for the employer to go after leavers and try to obtain financial damages for notice period related matters?

Although the word senior is mentioned in the job title, there's nothing extraordinary about the position; it's just another software engineering role.

Also, there's a clause that states they can terminate the contract at any time by giving a payment of 30 days.

So before signing the contract should I negotiate with them to reduce the notice period to 1 month?

  • 2
    On this site we can't offer advice as to what you should or shouldn't negotiate. Commented Apr 28, 2020 at 17:44
  • Searching for UK employment law might lead to a statute prohibiting the employer to require upfront that much of anticipation. Regardless, you can always push to reduce the asymmetry of notice periods. Employers and intermediaries oftentimes procure as much advantage as they can. But keep in mind that in labor matters you are the provider of a service, not to feel or be treated like a beggar. Commented Apr 28, 2020 at 20:44
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    @IñakiViggers a 3 month notice period is fairly common in the UK for key employees, so its highly unlikely to be unlawful.
    – user28517
    Commented Apr 28, 2020 at 22:32
  • @Moo Thanks, yes, I was just finishing the answer and it confirms your conjecture. A clause requiring a 3 month notice period is lawful. Commented Apr 28, 2020 at 22:36
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    @IñakiViggers upvoted!
    – user28517
    Commented Apr 28, 2020 at 22:39

2 Answers 2


Although markedly unequal, the conditions you describe are compliant with section 86 of the UK Employment Rights Act of 1996. The contract subjects you to harsher conditions and penalties that nonetheless are not prohibited by the Act.

It is totally up to you to require a more balanced clause of notice periods (and a more balanced agreement in general) regardless of whether disparities of this sort are common in a labor market.

Also, there's a clause that states they can terminate the contract at any time by giving a payment of 30 days.

That is lawful. Section 86(3) reads that "[...] this section does not prevent either party [...] from accepting a payment in lieu of notice". By accepting that clause you are merely exercising the right this section provides employees. That does not mean you have to accept the clause.

  • It also states that - 'Organization may deduct from any final monies owing to you any additional cost of covering your duties for the period not worked or an amount equal to any loss suffered by the Company arising from your failure to work your full contractual notice.' Is it limited risk ringfensed by withheld salary payment or is it unlimited risk? Commented Apr 29, 2020 at 13:27
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    @user6176517 Since the clause is ambiguous, with the doctrine of contra proferentem you would defeat the employer's attempt to make you liable for more than the withheld salary payment. The language "deduct from any final monies ow[ed] to you further weakens the employer's possible allegation of unlimited indemnification. Even if the clause referred to the greater of "a" or "b", the scenario of unlimited risk might still be void as unreasonable or unconscionable. Commented Apr 29, 2020 at 13:49
  • Thanks for it. But will it be applicable in UK? Commented Apr 29, 2020 at 15:08
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    @user6176517 Contra proferentem and the unenforceability of unconscionable contracts are applicable in every "modern" legal system, including the UK. Commented Apr 29, 2020 at 16:32
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    @user6176517 I read the pages, but where's the confusion? The explanatory resources you found are generic, make very basic assumptions, and they are unlikely to cover a scenario of flawed clauses. The employer drafted the clause ambiguously, which is what triggers the doctrine of contra proferentem. That being said, you could preempt many of your concerns by requiring amendments to the contract so that it is more equitable and reasonable. Also, resort to legislation whenever possible. Explanatory pages, including those of govt. agencies, are not controlling in a legal dispute. Commented Apr 30, 2020 at 10:47

Following is mentioned on ACAS website:

When can an employer make a deduction from a worker's pay? An employer may be able to make a deduction from a worker's pay where there has been a genuine overpayment of wages. An employer may also be able to make a deduction from pay in certain circumstances (e.g. to cover damage to equipment or property) if there is an express clause in the worker's contract allowing them to do so. However, it is important that the worker has been made aware of this provision of the contract, and the employer should notify the worker in writing before making the deduction. There is legal protection for retail workers where the contract provides for a deduction for till or stock shortages: the employer must not deduct more than 10% of a worker's wages for any pay period, though they may make a series of deductions over a number of pay periods. (If the worker leaves the job, the employer can take the full amount owed from the final pay.) Employers should be cautious about including terms in a contract that may result in punitive deductions, such as deducting pay as part of a disciplinary sanction. This could be challenged on grounds of reasonableness through a civil court or, in certain circumstances, an Employment Tribunal.

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