Posted by Brian McCullough
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I’ve been working for the past two years as a full time IT worker for a company in London. They seem to be pleased with my work, and are happy to have me, but for family reasons, it’s time for me to return to the states.
My question is: how much notice do I need to give my employer? Is it different than in the states? Or can I get away with the standard two weeks, like in the US?
Read Brian’s answer after the break.
Well, keep in mind that my experience as a career advisor is mostly US-based. I’d say over the last 10 years, less than 3% of my clients were from overseas. But, on the plus side for you, most of my overseas experience was with UK clients.
My first bit of advice is: ask someone. A co-worker, a friend… maybe even reach out to your HR department if you feel comfortable doing so. It’s amazing how much you can learn sometimes if you just poke your head around the corner and ask the first person who walks by.
From my experience, I’ve always been under the impression that UK standard practice is pretty much the same as in North America: two weeks notice is fine.
The caveat I’d add to this is that you should check your contract and see if it spells out how much notice you need to give. I’ve heard from several people that in the UK it’s more common to write that sort of thing into your employment contract. I have had a couple of UK clients who were looking to trasition to the US, but ran into problems when interviewing because the contract with the exisiting employer obliged them to serve out a full month after giving notice. They suggested to me that they might be in legal trouble if they did otherwise, and might even be docked pay if they did not serve out their contractual obligations fully. This presented a problem because (1) US firms tend to want you to start right away and (2) the clients didn’t want to quit until they had a firm new job. You can’t blame them for wanting a bird in hand first, especially when moving overseas… but this did force some juggling in terms of timing.
The bottom line in this story is: if your contract says you need to give a certain amount of notice… well… you can never go wrong in life by honoring contracts to the letter.
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