Leaving Your Job Is Like Getting A Divorce 

Imagine your spouse/partner’s reaction if you said to them, “I don’t love you anymore and I have traded you in for a newer model”. 
 
Employment is very much like a marriage; everybody starts off with the best of intentions, they spend more time awake with each other than they do with their partners and a certain amount of emotional attachment may arise. Therefore, the leaving can be equally traumatic for both parties. 
Generally people put very little thought into leaving their employment, and in a number of cases recently the jilted partner, i.e. the employer, has made life extremely difficult for the employee. 
 
Employment contracts now contain a number of standard clauses which a) restrain the ability of the employee to compete with the employer after leaving, b) restrain the ability of the employee to use any confidential information which they may have in relation to the employer in any new employment, and c) impose notice periods well in excess of the statutory notice period laid down. 
 
To give you some recent cases which we at Marcus Lynch Solicitors have handled: 
 
(1.) A counter assistant in a pharmacy handed in her notice to join another pharmacy within the same development. The employer invoked a provision in her contract whereby she could not compete. The provision was obviously not intended to deal with counter assistants, but more senior employees. However, the employer did use it against this assistant. Now legally the employer was within their rights to invoke this clause, but we advised the counter assistant that, in reality, the costs of attempting to stop her leaving would far outweigh any perceived benefit to the employer. She handed in her notice and no action was taken. However, if the employer had decided to invoke the clause, she could have been in some trouble. 
 
(2.) In the second case, a worker in a call centre was asked by one of the employer’s clients to work for them providing assistance in relation to issues which might arise with the employer’s products. In this case, the employer invoked the confidentiality clause. Again, we had to advise the employee that there was a legal risk that he might be found to be in breach of the confidentiality clause in working for the client, but that it was unlikely that the employer would actually resort to legal action. He resigned and fortunately the employer did not take any action. 
 
 
(3.) A junior banker was offered a new position with another bank. The offer was contingent upon him being available in six weeks. His notice period said two months. His employer made it quite clear that they expected him to work the two months or be on gardening leave for two months, they would not sanction a lesser notice and if he did resign and go and work for the competitor, they would invoke their legal rights under his contract. He had to turn the position down. Of course, this led to a very toxic atmosphere between him and his employer and he subsequently resigned. 
 
If you are starting to look for new employment, look at the provisions in your contract carefully, and take advice from us at Marcus Lynch Solicitors as to exactly what the employer might and might not enforce. It is much easier to smooth the path rather than present employers with a fait accompli which will always cause difficulties. 
If you are starting to look for new employment, look at the provisions in your contract carefully and take advice from us at Marcus Lynch Solicitors as to exactly what the employer might and might not enforce. It is much easier to smooth the path rather than present employers with a fait accompli which will always cause difficulties. 
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