Noticing the differences

Feb 13 2008 by Nic Paton Print This Article

The amount of notice you have to give when you move jobs varies much more widely around the globe than you might have thought.

That's the conclusion of employment consultancy Mercer, which has analysed notice periods around the world and discovered there are significant differences between many countries, even those within the European Union.

Employees resigning from jobs in the US, Mexico, Hong Kong, Ireland, Singapore and the UK all have the shortest statutory notice period between resigning and leaving, Mercer concluded in its analysis of 43 countries in its Global HR Factbook.

Employees in Mexico were not legally required to serve notice at all before leaving their employment, it found.

In the U.S., by comparison, while there is also no statutory requirement, two or more weeks' notice is customary and simply marching out is liable to raise a few eyebrows.

In contrast, laws in Hong Kong, Ireland, Singapore and the UK all require employees with a year's service to give minimum notice of one week.

And at the other end of the spectrum, employees with just a year under their belts in Switzerland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic were all required to give at least two months' notice.

The majority of countries required employees to give a month's notice on resignation, Mercer found.

In one out of three countries, notice periods varied according to an employee's length of service while individual contracts of employment could also specify a longer notice period.

"In many countries, the actual notice period depends on the terms of the employment contract that an employee has agreed with his or her employer," said Clive Wright, principal with Mercer.

"It is interesting to note the lack of consistency, however, especially across regions like the European Union where it is reasonable to expect more uniformity," he added.

For employees with one year of service, longer notice was required in Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg and the Ukraine.

In Britain, employees could give just one week's notice where statutory requirements applied, while employers had to give a week's notice for every complete year of service, up to a maximum of 12 weeks.