My employer says I can only leave if I give it 6 months’ notice, but I want to get out now. Can they stop me?

My employer says I can only leave if I give it 6 months’ notice, but I want to get out now. Can they stop me?

Is a 6 month notice period reasonable?


If the notice period is contained within your contract, then you may be under a contractual obligation to provide that amount of notice. However, it is important to check your Award.


A contractual notice period that is less favourable than the period stipulated in your award will not be enforceable. Rather, you will be held to the period provided in your Award.


If the contractual notice period is more favourable than the period stipulated in your award, it will be enforceable. This is because parties are free to provide better terms than the Award, which provides a safety net of minimum standards for employees.


If the contract does not stipulate a notice period, a reasonable notice period will be implied. This notice period cannot be less than that stipulated in your Award, however, it may be more.


Whether or not a notice period is considered reasonable is a question of degree, based upon the circumstances at the time the notice is given. Relevant factors will include:


  1. What your Award says regarding notice period
  2. What your Contract says regarding notice period
  3. How long you have been employed
  4. Your level of seniority
  5. How many other persons occupy that level of seniority within the business
  6. The importance of your position to the business
  7. The nature of your employment
  8. Your salary
  9. Your age
  10. Your qualifications and experience
  11. Your degree of job mobility


For an employer the notice period allows for transition to a new employee and prevents sudden movement of an employee to a competitor.


The purpose of a reasonable notice period for an employee is primarily to ensure that an employee may have sufficient time to secure an alternate position. To that end, if you have already found another source of employment, a shorter notice period may be implied or negotiated.


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