Leaving employment on ‘good terms’

Leaving employment is never easy. Whether you are unhappy in a job, moving on to bigger and better things or simply seeking a change of career, leaving any form of employment is always going to be a big decision – and ensuring you leave ‘on good terms’ with your employer can often feel like trying to navigate a minefield.

Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to ensure an amicable exit from employment. Leaving your job successfully is simply a matter of playing by the rules, which are as follows:

Be cautious of notice periods

Your notice period will usually be written into your contract of employment. It is important to ensure that you provide your employer with your services up until the very end of this period in order to leave on good terms.

Furthermore, it is advisable to be mindful of ‘restrictions’ on certain activities while serving either a notice period or ‘gardening leave’.

Be wary of referrals and recommendations

If you are working within a specific field or industry, chances are that your previous employer, and potential new employers, are aware of each other’s existence – and may even be in regular contact with one another. This means that a ‘good employee’ is likely to be informally recommended to potential new employers, whereas a ‘bad employee’ could face a very different fate.

If you are concerned about your performance, or leaving on bad terms with your employer, it is advisable to seek professional support on drafting agreed confidential terms for a settlement agreement – which may protect you from ‘negative word of mouth’ upon leaving employment.

Keep on top of your social media accounts

Upon leaving a job, or perhaps even during your notice period, your contract may state that you are prohibited from ‘promoting yourself’ as an employee on social media. This means that you will need to keep on top of your Facebook, LinkedIn and other accounts to ensure that you are no longer listed as an employee and effectively ‘promoting yourself’ as part of the company online.

Most firms will have their own independent social media guidelines written into their contracts – and these could catch you out in numerous ways. If in doubt, you should seek advice from a legal professional with regards to your contract – to determine exactly where you stand.

Ask for a reference

References are crucial to future employment. You should always ask for one and always remember that your employer is likely to be very careful what they say, for fear of potential legal action.

Be aware that in some fields, such as the financial services sector, potential employers may vet your references as far back as up to six years, and your current boss may be legally obliged to provide details of any disciplinary action undertaken, depending on your role. If unsure, ask for advice.

Seek advice on your employment contract

In recent years, numerous horror stories of ‘post-termination restrictions’, ‘non-complete clauses’ and post-employment surprises have been highlighted by the media. Don’t be another victim. If in doubt, seek professional legal advice, or get a solicitor to review your contract before handing in your notice.

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Nigel is the Managing Partner and Head of Litigation and Dispute Resolution in the London office of Mackrell Turner Garrett.