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Changing of resignation date

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This is a strange one and been hard to answer so far.

My friend is a teacher and has handed in his notice to finish on Aug 31st (notice period in contract gives latest date of May 31st for Aug finish). This was done before Christmas. His circumstances have now changed and he wanted to change the finish date to April (notice period in contract gives latest date of Feb 28th for April finis). This is still well within the contracted notice period but the employer has said he will have to work his original notice or be sued for breach of contract!

Can this be the case? has he effectivly somehow signed up to a fixed term contract?

Answers on a post card please.

He will be taking legal advice but wondered if anyone has had previous experience of this.

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The head will not accept a withdrawal of the original resignation though and previous advice has said they are within their rights to refuse to allow withdrawal hence it being an amendment request. Legal advice received as follows: " Your ‘new contract’ if you had one would be on the same terms as the old, eg. That you could resign provided you did so on notice with the notice ending at certain key points. So, if you are within your old contract provisions for resignation by Easter then that’s not a breach. Even if it were, the issue for the school you would be leaving is what exactly can they sue for? They have to prove that they have suffered a loss and generally speaking they make a gain in that they are no longer paying your salary. So, its hard for them to bring a claim anyway even if you were in breach. I think The HT is just trying to worry you and I would say that you have taken some initial advice and understand that you are able to resign even after an earlier resignation has been agreed. Stand your ground, I’m sure the HT will back down."

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The employer is not required to accept withdrawal of the original resignation. However, I don't see how they can refuse to accept a subsequent resignation if that is permitted by the contract.


If his contract says he is entitled to resign now and finish in April, I don't see how he could be said to be in breach of contract.




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  • 4 weeks later...

So the plot thickens.

Latest news is the head has said "Once an employee gives notice of resignation, it is effective and can only be varied or retracted with their employer's permission. Once notice is served, it is effective."

The head also states "We are not obliged to release you early from your notice period. Accelerating your leaving date would have an adverse impact on the school..........bla bla bla".

The head then proposes a compromise where he has to go in on afternoons and odd days to help with the Yr 11 exam kids.

The last part says that leaving early "will undoubtedly be a breach of contract" and that it will result in the school perusing for "breach of contract for the recovery of additional costs, which the school will be put by hiring in short term cover in the period after 11th April"

They will no longer be paying his salary which would be in excess of a cover teacher so this holds no weight whatsoever!

He is not interested in the compromise after being threatened with legal action. it would mean he had 2 jobs too so would also be taxed as such.

He will be forwarding this letter to his solicitor for further advice but it seems nuts to me!

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The stress is bothering him now which is not fair.

I have said phone union and let them deal with it as it is just going to end up a tit for tat letter writing exercise. Solicitor wants paying for further advice which is expensive and she already said the only thing they could sue for is losses which we believe would not exist as his salary works out at around £165 a day whereas a temp agency teacher costs the school £150 per day.

Why anyone would want to force someone to stay is beyond me!

One other thing the head states is that it is acting in bad faith to leave early (even though he gave an additional 1 months notice on top of what they expect) after they have acted in good faith by acting and relying on his original resignation date? strange statement.


I dont think the moving forward of a resignation date has ever been tested in court and believe any case would be expensive and complicated far outweighing any advantage. The fact that losses could not be shown would be a non starter imo. I asked the opinion of the HR dept at my work said they would never pursue this scenario as ample notice has still been given as per contract. They said if they cant recruit in the time allocated its not the fault of the employee so what would they even sue for?

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