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Will the New Year mean a new career?

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A New Year makes us all think about resolutions; some of us join a gym to get fit, some of us may wish to volunteer more, and apparently one in three of us would like to start a new career or change jobs.  Howard Robson, Parnter within the Employment team, explains the top tips you need to consider if you are looking for a career change in 2017.

Two years service

Before you do take the plunge, think about how long you have been at your current place of employment.  If you have been with your employer for less than 2 years you are not able to bring a claim against your employer for unfair dismissal.  So, if you have been with your employer for longer than 2 years, you may not wish to lose this right.  Consider why it is that you are looking for a change, is it something that can be rectified or adapted in your current role?

Restrictive covenants

It may be that in your existing contract, you have restrictive covenants in place that prevent you from working for a competing business to your ex-employer for a certain amount of time after you have left the business.  It could also mean you are prohibited from working with, or ‘poaching’, customers of your previous employer.  This is common in roles such as sales, so before you do look to leave, review your contract for any clauses such as these, as this could impact your next steps.

Notice period

Always check what your notice period is, you may have signed your contract years ago and could be wrong in assuming it is the normal 4 weeks notice period.  It is becoming more common practice for employers to now ask for three or six months notice period dependent on your role in the company.  This is to safe guard their important roles within the business and to give them sufficient time to find and train a replacement, with as little disruption to their business and customer base.

Training and development

Some employers place a lot of importance on training and developing their staff, which is a popular way to encourage retention and loyalty amongst employees.  If your employer does this, is there a clause included in your contract that means you need to repay any costs if you leave within a certain time following the training? 

Benefits package

If you do take the step and secure an interview for a new role, an important question to ask is about their benefits package.  They won’t think you are greedy in asking, just sensible, particularly if you were enjoying a generous package in your previous role.  This would include elements such as a pension, holiday entitlement, health insurance, dental or optical insurance, retirement plans and could extend to staff discounts.

Sick Pay

While no-one plans on having time off sick, whether it be a couple of days or long term sick leave, before you accept a new position ensure you discover the sick pay provisions and whether they are simply statutory or go above. Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is paid at £88.45 per week, for up to 28 weeks.  In order to qualify for SSP you need to have been off work sick for 4 or more days in a row (including non-working days).

Maternity, paternity and shared parental leave

As with sick leave, find out what provisions there are should you or partner become pregnant.  All employers will offer statutory maternity or paternity leave, however some may offer more and they may have different rules around Shared Parental Leave.

Statutory Maternity Pay can be paid for up to 39 weeks (two weeks are mandatory), however mothers are allowed to take up to 52 weeks maternity leave.  The usual provision is that the first 6 weeks is paid at 90% of their average weekly earnings before tax with the remaining 33 weeks as either £139.58 per week or 90% of their average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.

Fathers will normally receive two weeks Statutory Paternity Pay which is either £139.58 a week or 90% of their average weekly earnings, again whichever is lower. 

Shared Parental Leave now enables parents to share their 52 weeks leave they are entitled to.

Travel arrangements

Also ascertain in your interview the expectations on travel; will you have to travel to different sites, will they pay expenses, will you be allowed a company car? 

Before you sign the employment contract

You’ve found the job of your dreams for 2017 and you can’t wait to start, but before you sign the contract, make sure you properly review it.  Is everything as you expected in terms of hours, salary, any flexible working requests you have made, benefits package, notice period etc. 

While everyone will have different things that are important to them in their work life, whether that be benefits package, length of commute, flexible hours etc, make sure you have your list of what is important to you, so you can make the right decision. 

If you have any questions about your employment contract, you can contact Howard or a member of the Employment Team on 02380 717717 or email


This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.