Asking on behalf of a friend. They're band 2 with 4 years experience in a trust. There's a very good chance they'll be offered a position with a start date of the second week of Feb somewhere else in the country. Contract says 4 weeks notice and this obviously won't work. No leave left to give up and start date cannot be changed. Is there anything the trust could do if they just left?
Talk to her manager. If the manager is willing then a notice period can be waived. This is more likely with the less senior posts such as your friend's (no offence meant). Does she have a good relationship with her manager?
"just a bit concerned they might give a poorer reference in future."
Yes that is certainly a risk. Someone who just walks out without serving their notice is entirely likely to see that reflected in a reference, unless her employer is a "we give dates of employment only" basic reference kind of place.
Is the new employer really going to offer the job to someone else for the sake of waiting a couple of weeks? Most people will surely have similar notice periods anyway?
Other than that, asking to be released early rather than walking out is of course always better.
Totally get the seniority thing, it's why I mentioned being a band 2. The managers know they're looking for a new job and that it's for sensitive family reasons, but don't seem to give a damn about anything not actually involving them. I used to work for this trust in a very different department and the whole place is toxic. Management at all levels seem to have no interest.
Thanks very much for all the advice, will pass it all on!