I work in the IT department of a school in the Greater Boston area (Wakefield to be exact). As part of my terms of employment, I have to sign a contract yearly. Part of this contract states that I must give a whopping 90 days notice if I plan to terminate my position.
My question is, how realistic is it to expect to abide by this particular rule? Can they do anything to me if I just give normal 2 weeks notice? Even if they can, is it common that they will? I would like to search for a new job but having to give 90 days notice will likely ruin any prospective job. After all, who is going to wait that long?
Basically, I’m trying to get a reasonable analysis on the risks that I take by only giving 2 weeks notice. Vague question probably, and I apologize for that.
If you breach this contract by leaving without giving the required 90 days notice, legality and practicality will likely be at odds. Though contracts like yours are, at least in theory, as binding as any other formal agreement, enforcing a requirement that an employee stay on the job presents real problems that most employers will prefer to avoid. That’s because no judge will be likely to order you to stay with this employer, and none would have very effective mechanisms to enforce such an order even if he/she believed the court had authority to issue one.
To be clear, there are two potential options for your employer if you violate your contract. First, it could seek the nearly impossible order requiring you to stay on the job. Second, it could sue you for any damages it claims you caused by leaving work early. Though this latter option is more viable than the first, it remains difficult and probably impractical in most cases. The employer would need to first show that the contract exists and is enforceable. It would then need to demonstrate the precise damages you caused by leaving work on short notice. Unless the work you perform is highly unique, this will be a difficult prospect. Given this reality and the high cost of litigation, the idea that your employer would actually pursue a damages option may be far-fetched.
Your best approach here is probably to minimize conflict as much as possible. When you locate a job, try to delay the start date as much as you can. Then talk to your employer about your situation and be as flexible as you can helping with the transition. You may be surprised to find that your employer will cooperate in releasing you from what is an unusually long notice requirement in exchange for any help it needs getting a new person up and running.
Attorney Jack Merrill is a Boston, MA employment lawyer providing legal services to employees, employers and businesses throughout the Boston metro west and Worcester County region including Ashland, Dedham, Framingham, Franklin, Hopkinton, Maynard, Marlborough, Milford, Natick, Needham, Newton, Shrewsbury, Sudbury, Waltham, and Worcester, Massachusetts.