Do You Have to Give Notice During Probation Period? Resignation Guide

Not every job ends up being a good fit. If you’ve started a new role and are unhappy, you might want to know if you have to give notice during the probation period. Often the wish to leave a job can be overwhelming. Our guide looks at what you can do in this situation.

Probation periods are standard practice within many jobs, and they serve two purposes. First, it allows the employer to see if you will be a good fit for the company. Second, it gives you the chance to decide if it’s the job for you.

If you’re still in a probation period and realise the job isn’t working, you need to understand the notice period during probation.  The answer to this may well be found in your contract but if not, our guide has some useful pointers.


What is a Probationary Period?

Sometimes, a job sounds ideal on paper. But the reality can be different and you may decide it isn’t the right step for you. Likewise, an employer may be impressed with your CV and interview but realises you aren’t a suitable candidate after all.

To stop this from getting messy and causing problems, a probation period is used. Probation acts as a trial period to make sure the role is a good fit for employer and employee.

Probation should be discussed before starting your role and you should be aware how long it is. If the trial period doesn’t go well, you may not be offered a permanent position.

The length of time a trial period lasts will depend on your employer. There are no legal maximum lengths of time for it to run. However, it will usually be laid out in your contract of employment.

A probationary period makes sure all expectations of the role are fulfilled, from all parties involved. They can be useful for all parties. Statistics show that a trial period helps employees succeed in their job and quickly filters out unsuitable candidates.


Can I Quit Without Notice in my Probation Period?

It might be tempting to quit without notice if your job is not as expected. However, you need to be aware of the do’s and don’ts.

In the first instance, you should check the terms of your contract. Most contracts of employment will lay out what notice period you need to give if you wish to leave. However, if your contract is silent on notice periods, and you have been in your job for less than 1 month, you are not obligated to give notice.

If you have been hired on a zero hours contract, your employment contract may specify a notice period. However, you are not obligated to accept any shifts during notice. This means you can leave with immediate effect.

Our guide on the legal aspect of quitting without notice answers the question is it illegal to quit a job without notice? It also offers handy hints and tips on how to approach your resignation.


Common Contractual Notice Periods

You should check your contract to understand your notice period as it should be set out in there.

It will usually depend on a few factors including:

  • Length of employment.
  • The rules in place as per your contract.
  • The reason to be leaving, whether it’s dismissal, redundancy or resignation.

If you don’t have your contract to hand, here are some common timescales which are used by companies to determine notice periods.

If you’ve been employed for:-

  • Less than a month: No notice, or less than 1 week.
  • 1-6 months: One week notice.
  • Staff who have passed probation: 1 month notice period.

These are guidelines only, your own contract of employment may have different notice periods.


Statutory Notice Periods

As much as contracts are important, there are some companies who choose to not supply them. In this case, you need to refer to the statutory notice periods for your required notice period.

  • Between 1 month and 2 year of employment: One week’s notice
  • 2 years of employment: 2 week’s notice required
  • Anything over 2 years of employment: 1 week notice per year required

What Will Happen if You Don’t Give Notice During Probation?

You might be tempted to give no notice if you are seriously miserable during your probation period. But what are the repercussions of doing so and just quitting without warning?

In theory, you can face legal action from the employer if you leave without notice. If they need to hire someone in the interim to replace you, they can legally charge these costs to you. However, this is very unusual. Depending on the size of the company, this can be a draining use of resources and time.

Should you leave early, you may owe the company money. For example, if they have allowed you to take paid holidays. This will need to be returned to them.


Talk to Your Employer

It is worth a discussion with your employer or HR before leaving without notice.

Often, it can be agreed that it is in the best interests for everyone to end things right away. This means no one leaves on bad terms.

The employer will know that if you are unhappy and leaving, then perhaps you won’t give the role as much enthusiasm as someone else.

Sometimes, it is easier to let an employee leave without drama and concentrate on the next candidate. Often, employers will have a list of suitable people from when interviews were conducted so they will return to this.

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