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Can I Walk Out of my Job Without Working my Notice Period?

By Solicitor, Employment

If the work day is getting you down, do you sometimes imagine getting up from your desk and shouting “I quit” before marching out the door in a blaze of glory? That’s the fantasy, but if you have a job with a long notice period can you actually just walk out?

Well, employers cannot restrain you from leaving the building so there is no chance of you being physically stopped if you were to pack up your personal belongings and walk out the door. However, if you leave without serving the correct notice period you are likely to be breaching your contract. This means that your employer could potentially sue you.

What are the chances?

If the impact of you leaving the business without giving notice is minimal the chances of an employer suing an employee for leaving without working out their notice period are low. To a certain extent, it depends on what kind of role you have and what company you are leaving your current job to work for.

If you are in a senior position and your position can’t be easily filled or you are leaving for a competitor the impact on the business may be higher and your employer may be more likely to threaten action. If you’re a Company Director or you have responsibility for company assets or client money, you are likely to have additional obligations such as fiduciary duties which are also relevant.

What could your employer do?

After breaching your contract by walking out you can be sued for damages. Your former employer would have to show financial loss flowing from your early departure. 

Damages are not the only thing your employer might want. Your employer could seek an injunction from the court which, if successful, could prevent you from working anywhere else until the end of your original notice period or longer if you have gained a competitive advantage by breaching your contract.

For more information please see a related blog How to Negotiate out of your Notice Period.

The potential risks of leaving without serving your notice period will very much depend upon your own circumstances, so if you are considering doing so you should get strategic and legal advice from Employment Solicitors.

For an initial consultation call Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK on freephone 0800 916 9060 or contact us online and we will call you back.

Greg Fletcher is an employment lawyer at Slater and Gordon in Edinburgh.