The terms and conditions of your contract should specify how much notice is required if you want to resign or you have been dismissed. Generally the higher your grade the longer your notice period - senior post holders could be required to give up to three months’ notice. You may wish to try and negotiate the length of notice with your employer, but it could be a breach of contract to resign without giving the correct notice.
If you leave your job without giving appropriate notice your employer could sue you for compensation. Because employment contracts are 'personal' the courts will not force the employee to work for the employer. Compensation will be limited to damages representing the actual losses suffered by the employer. If, for example, it was necessary for the employer to recruit someone else at short notice at a greater cost than if the employee had worked out their notice, then the additional cost is recoverable from the employee. This does not justify the withholding of salary and the employer would still have to sue to recover any loss. A withholding of salary is likely to be an unlawful deduction of wages.
It is very unusual for nurses and health care assistants to be sued when they do not give the required notice of resignation.
If your employer has acted so improperly that you treat the contract as having ended, and you resign, this could be constructive dismissal. In order to claim constructive dismissal you would need to evidence that there had been an actual breach of contract or a breach of the implied term of trust and confidence or fair dealing. These cases can be quite difficult to prove so please seek our advice before considering resignation and read our dismissal advice.
Frustration of contract is when something has happened which makes it impossible for you to go on working, for example where a medical condition makes it impossible for you to perform your contractual obligations. It could also be where the contract becomes illegal to perform, or cannot be performed, in the specified manner
If you are a nurse, you should also consider your NMC code and your duty of care to patients. If you left your employer without serving your contractual or minimum notice period, there is the possibility that you could be reported to the NMC for putting patients at risk.
Please call us on 0345 772 6100 if you think you have no option but to leave your employer without working your notice period.