A contract is a binding agreement between two parties. If one of the parties breaks the agreement, the other can seek to enforce its terms. This applies to such things as the buying of goods, or the provision of services.
A contract of employment is no different. There are many reasons the Independent Pilots Association are contacted about contract issues, but by far the most frequent reason is airline pilots are not working their full notice period when leaving their current employer.
The starting point is that you are required to give the contractual notice period you agreed to when you signed the contract. If you are not going to work your full notice period (three months is industry standard, but we are increasingly seeing four months), the best option is to negotiate an earlier exit with your employer. However, given current pilot shortages, this may not be possible. So, what do you do?
Ultimately, your employer cannot prevent you from leaving your employment early. You should, however, give as much notice as possible, even if it is not the full amount. If leaving with short notice results in your employer incurring extra costs, these might be recoverable against you. A common response of the employer is to withhold your final wage payment until any outstanding financial issues are resolved. Remember that if you do not work your full notice period, you are not entitled to be paid for any period you do not work.
If there are problems with your employment which are (part of) the reason you are leaving, you should not wait until resigning to raise problems or concerns. The employer is unlikely to accept these arguments as compelling reasons to release you early or to forgo any bond liability.
Unless your employer has committed a fundamental breach of the employment contract, you are ill-advised to just walk out. Where there is an alleged breach we would advise you to contact us at the soonest opportunity. The law in this area is complex and we will need to explore the issues with you without delay.
Failing to give full, or any notice can have professional repercussions. It is not unusual for full notice not to be given, and we act for members who need advice, and also representation in such situations.
If you are looking to change jobs, please contact our airline pilots association so that we can advise you on the options available to you. We are available on 01444 441149 or firstname.lastname@example.org