You know when something is so awful, it’s good? Well, that describes my relationship with the Channel 4 show Married at First Sight at the moment. I know it’s car crash TV and edited to within an inch of its life (with cheesy dramatic music at regular intervals) but I can’t seem to stop watching it.
Put simply, Married at First Sight is a ‘dating’ show where six individuals are married to a stranger who they literally meet for the first time at the altar. They don’t know their future spouse’s full name or even see a picture of them beforehand. This means they must buy the dress/suit and ring on their own and then meet their partner for the first time in front of their family and friends at the altar with the accompanying vicar. Each couple are then given 6 weeks (with the TV crew continuing to trail them at every turn) to have the wedding party, go on honeymoon, rent a house together and see if their lives can fit together. At the end of that ridiculously short period, they then decide whether to stay married or seek a divorce. Cue romance, tears, fights and one woman with a fear of dogs freaking out at having to live with her new husband’s two hyperactive dogs…
Why am I talking about this? Well, it happens to be a useful link to a regular employment law issue – namely, what happens if an employee/employer ‘divorces’ (i.e. leaves) the other within the 6 week ‘honeymoon’ (or not-so-honeymoon) period.
Well, as with most things employment law, we start with what the contract of employment says. No one contract is the same but the majority state that one week’s notice is required from an employer to end a Contract within the first six months. Therefore, if the employer decides that the employer isn’t the one for them, they normally only have to give one week’s notice of this (particularly if the employee is within their probationary period). As most people are aware, the probationary period is pretty much the ‘honeymoon’ period which an employee has to demonstrate they are able to fulfil the job role.
However, some contracts will state that no notice is needed if things break down within a month of the employee’s first day. This means that the relationship ends that day without the need to pay any notice pay.
On the other hand, if it is the employee who decides that the relationship must end, the notice period may well be longer (it is normal for one month’s notice to be required). This is where issues can normally arise because it is not uncommon for employees to decide they don’t want to work their notice period anymore. At best, this simply means that they lose out on the normal notice pay they would otherwise have been entitled to but, at worst, this could mean the employer claiming money from the employee for any loss (usually linked to the cost of replacing them) suffered due to their failure to work their notice period.
So, just like with divorce, instant emotional decisions aren’t advised on either side and, instead, it is worth thinking through the various options before acting!