Leaving your job
When you decide to change your job, there are important steps to follow in terms of giving proper notice and getting references.
There is a legal requirement to inform your employer that you intend to leave, called giving notice.
A notice period is the amount of time you must inform your employer before leaving your job (for example, 2 weeks or a month). It allows both you and your employer to prepare for the transition.
The length of notice you must give is set down in law and is usually stated in your employment contract.
The laws governing notice periods are detailed in the Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Acts 1973–2005.
How much notice should I give?
Check what your contract says about giving notice and follow those rules. If you want to negotiate a different arrangement, you should discuss this with your employer.
There is no notice period in my contract
Statutory minimum notice is the shortest notice period that you can give under Irish law. If your contract does not state a notice period, you must provide the legal minimum, which is one week.
The full rules on giving notice are set out in the Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Acts 1973–2005. The legal (or ‘statutory’) minimum notice is set out in Section 6 of the Act.
I worked for less than 13 weeks
You do not have to give notice if:
- You worked for your employer for less than 13 weeks, and
- There is no employment contract specifying a notice period
Can I leave before my notice period ends?
Usually, you are required to work the notice period.
Sometimes, your employer may agree that you can leave your job without working until the end of your notice period. Your employer may offer you pay instead of notice for that period.
Payment instead (or ‘in lieu’) of notice is covered in Section 7 of the Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Act 1973.
I have outstanding annual leave
If you leave your job without taking all the annual leave you are entitled to, your employer must pay you for the unused days.
Some employers may offer leave instead (or ‘in lieu’) of notice. These arrangements are not covered by legislation, so you must agree this with your employer.
Can I change my mind?
Once you have given notice, the only way to withdraw it is by reaching an agreement with your employer.
When applying for a new job, you may want to ask your current or former employer for a reference. The person who gives you a reference is called a referee.
The reference can be written or spoken and usually includes information about:
- How long you worked for the employer
- Your job responsibilities
- Your attendance record
- Your job performance
- Your suitability for the new job
Am I entitled to a reference by law?
There is no legal requirement for your current or previous employer to give you a reference. Few employment contracts include the right to have a reference when you leave.
Employers usually provide references when asked. If they do this for some employees, they should do it for all employees without discrimination.
Can an employer provide false information in my reference?
Your current employer has a duty of care to you and your new employer. If they give you a reference, it must be true, fair, accurate and not misleading.
My employer gave me an unfair or inaccurate reference
If you believe your employer has given an unfair and inaccurate reference, and it has caused you harm, you may have grounds to sue them for negligence.
If you think the reference is defamatory (you believe your reputation has been injured due to the reference), you may sue the employer under the Defamation Act 2009.
Can I read my reference?
You have the right to access information about you, including your personnel records, under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Personnel records include written and, if recorded, verbal references. However, you may not have access to the reference if the opinion was provided in confidence or with the understanding that it would remain confidential.