Long Notice Periods

A slow trend has emerged in the digital marketing job market in South Africa. Over time employers have systematically increased the termination notice period of employees from thirty days – or one calendar month – to two or three calendar months. Although this seems innocuous, it is most likely going to terrorize employees, with the most harm coming to young, entry-level digital marketing specialists.

So what is the harm in this?

Harm to the applicant or employee

  • An applicant who accepts a two- or three calendar month notice period is likely to struggle to find new employment;
  • The reason for this is their potential start date. For instance, an applicant who accepts a position on the 15th of March with a two calendar month notice period will only be able to start his/her new job on the 1st of June. Due to the fast pace of the digital marketing industry, this is barely tenable.
  • It therefore follows that a candidate with this length of notice period will struggle to leave his/her current employer without breaching his/her contractual notice period, as the market would struggle to find the start date acceptable.
  • This will nearly force applicants to forfeit good references for future employment, only to likely get stuck in the same arrangement again, but with a new employer.
  • Ultimately, employees conduct during their tenure will be negated and compromised by unfair contractual agreements.

The above points are especially true for entry-level or junior-level employees. The reason for this is that they are more likely to be desperate and therefore will hold little to no power in contract negotiations. In addition to this they are more likely to be motivated by financial incentives to leave their current employers, with their foresight about the consequences of breaching their contract being distorted by said financial incentives.

Harm to the employer

The harm to the employer primarily springs from its ability to attract talented ex-employees to return to the fold. If an untenable employment contract is established it will increase the likelihood that interpersonal relationships will break down during the resignation process. This will significantly reduce, if not destroy, the possibility that a talented employee will return to his/her old employer if things do not work out with a new employer.

Secondly, as the war for talent intensifies in the digital marketing industry (as it has with Software Development), word is likely to spread regarding these practices from employers, which will put the in an unfavourable light for both prospective employees and recruiters alike.

We will discuss a few workable solutions for this problem in a future post.