Notice Period UK: Important Facts and Legal Requirements

Notice Period in the UK

The whole point of a notice period in the UK is to reduce the stress. After all, an employee giving advance notice for when they are leaving is designed to make things easier. The fact remains, though, that this time is not entirely without stress.

Notice periods in the UK are determined by the government (statutory notice) and by employment contract (contractual notice). In this article, we’ll break down all you need to know about notice periods in the UK.

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What Is Standard Notice Period In The UK?

In the UK, the legislation about handing in one’s notice (statutory notice) states that employees must give at least a week’s notice if they have been in their job for more than a month. And, whether they have to give verbal or written notice depends on what is written in their contract.

While some sources (nidirect.gov.uk and acas.org.uk) also say that employers must give employees “one week for each complete year (up to a maximum of 12) if employees have been continuously employed for two or more years,” it does not appear that this is written in statute.

The confusion may arise because of the statutory redundancy notice period, which is a government requirement (if in doubt, though, please consult an employment lawyer).

The general trend here is that more junior employees are required to give one month’s notice and more senior employees are required to give three months’ notice. However, as in the case of most HR-related documents, the contract is king!

UK Notice Period Calculator: Template

The chart below is a helpful reference for notice period calculations in the UK…

template to calculate notice period in the UK

Need a bit more of a hands-on approach? Simply copy and past this table for your own notice period calculator…

Term of EmploymentNotice Required
One Month or LessNo Notice Required
Two Months - Two YearsOne Week Notice
Two-Twelve YearsOne Week Per Year
Twelve Years PlusTwelve Weeks Notice

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Other UK Employment Subjects Of Note

Are you looking for additional subjects around UK employment to help build stronger HR processes, or to simply get ahold of these topics so you can master them?

Please, feel free to click some of the links below to additional articles that we think you’ll find helpful:

What Happens When An Employee Leaves?

After an employee gives their notice, what happens next? Download our Exit Interview Template to help gain insights into why they left, while preserving your employer brand at the very same time. Download it for free right now.

 

How Much Notice Does An Employee Have To Give?

That’s up to your company and what is written into contracts. While a month may not seem like a lot of time to fill a junior role, most employers are not prepared to wait a long time before someone accepts a role and joins their new company.

So, giving employees a long notice period can be an advantage if you’re likely to take a long time to fill their role – which is usually the case for more senior employees.

But it can also be an advantage for them, too: Reassuring them they will still have an income for a certain period of time if they are let go.

In the C-suite, it is common for executives to have a six, or even a nine or 12, months notice period. These terms are usually negotiated, and mutually acceptable terms are agreed upon if and when a C-level exec leaves or is asked to leave.

How do you replace departing employees? Easily if you already have access to top talent. 

Can Employees ‘Negotiate Out’ Of Their Notice Period?

Quite generally speaking, they can. This depends on your preferences, as an employer, and the relationship you want to maintain with the employee. If there is a sense of goodwill and an employee has wrapped up many major initiatives, it may benefit your employer brand to be more flexible and allow them to leave on their own terms.

On the other hand, if an employee still has a lot to do or a lot of knowledge to pass on, it may be in the best interest of the organization to have them work their entire notice period. And, as the company, this is entirely within your rights.

Can Employees Refuse To Work During Their Notice Period?

Theoretically yes, but in actuality no. An employee can refuse to work, but based on the status of their contract they would be in breach of it, and therefore punishable by law. At the same time, if an employee refuses to work, an employer may also deduct their pay in turn.

Can Employers Force Employees To Go On Garden Leave?

Garden leave or gardening leave is the term used to describe an agreement made between an employee who resigns and their employer, where they mutually agree that the employee will not come back into the office, or may work remotely, and will still be paid until the end of their official notice period.

Garden leave can be an attractive proposition to employers if an employee who has submitted notice is moving on to a competitor. In that case, it may be best to ‘send them off into the garden’ for the duration of their notice period. The full story behind this concept, and if it’s a clear win-win for employers and employees, can be found in our full guide to garden leave.

Do Employees Have to be Paid During Their Notice Period in the UK?

The simple answer is yes. According to the gov.uk website, employees are entitled to normal pay during their notice period in the UK. This is true even if they are off sick, on holiday, on parental leave, or available to work even if their employer has nothing for them to do.

How Much Is Notice Pay?

Notice pay occurs in addition to statutory redundancy pay (we show you how to calculate redundancy pay in this article). Basically, an employer is required to pay an employee throughout the duration of their notice period or in lieu of that (dependant on circumstances which we’ll address next).

Essentially, notice pay is calculated based on the average an employee earns, per week, over the 12-week period before their notice period begins. An employee may receive more, based on the company and the status of their contract, but this is a basic way of understanding it (Gov.UK).

What is Payment in Lieu or PILON?

Payment in Lieu of Notice (PILON) can be given to employees when their employment is terminated and it is not desirable for them to carry on working for the company. Employers can pay them a salary or wage instead of whatever their contract says their notice period is. PILON can also be given in redundancy circumstances.

What Happens if There’s a Dispute About Notice Pay?

The gov.uk website says that the first point of call in a notice pay dispute is the company’s formal grievance procedure.

But, if this doesn’t work, employees (or, in this case, ex-employees) can sometimes make a claim to an employment tribunal if they think they have been treated unlawfully. At this stage, the Advisory, Conciliation, and Arbitration Service (Acas) gets involved. More information about employment tribunals is available in this downloadable guide.

Most employment contracts have restrictive covenants in their contract – for example, terms that indicate employees can’t work for a competitor or have contact with customers for a period of time after they leave. The gov.uk advice is clear that a company could take their ex-employee to court if they are found to breach these covenants.

Every Stage Of An Employee’s Journey Matters

Personio offers automated capabilities, at every step, to make an employee’s time at your company meaningful. Onboarding, documenting, managing, paying, and more. A dream come true? Maybe, but it’s all possible with Personio.

Notice Period Calculator: Employees Versus Employers

UK Notice Period: Employer versus Employee Requirements

How Should Employees Give Notice?

Regardless of how long the notice period is, most contracts require employees to provide a termination of employment letter, more commonly known as a resignation letter. The contents of these vary dramatically but they should include the date of the letter, the employee’s name and signature, and the notice period (which must agree with the contract).

Some employees choose to provide a reason for resignation. This is not necessary. It’s more important to document their reasons for leaving in follow-up procedures such as during an exit interview.

How Should Employers Serve Notice?

The more formal-sounding ‘notice of termination of employment’ is the name typically given to the letter or notice that an employer gives to an employee when they are fired or let go. Be aware: The rules about how and when you can terminate an employee’s contract are very strict in the UK. Again, it’s all about what’s in the contract.

Unless employees are fired for gross misconduct or summary dismissal, when you dismiss someone instantly without notice or pay in lieu of notice, usually because of gross misconduct (for example theft, fraud, or violence), there are strict rules around terminating their contract for redundancy, lack of performance or a company’s inability to pay them (insolvency or bankruptcy).

Whatever you do, be sure to document and retain records of all employee-related leave, benefits, and disputes – it’s not just important in case of legal disputes, it’s also a data protection requirement!

Disclaimer:

We would like to draw attention to the fact that our web offer is for non-binding information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice in the actual sense. The content of this offer cannot and is not intended to replace individual and binding legal advice that addresses your specific situation. In this respect, all information offered is without guarantee of accuracy and completeness.

The contents of our website – especially the legal articles – are researched with the utmost care. Nevertheless, the provider cannot assume any liability for the correctness, completeness, and topicality of the information provided. In particular, the information is of a general nature and does not constitute legal advice in individual cases. For the solution of specific legal cases, please consult a lawyer.

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