Your notice period is usually agreed with your employer and will form part of your employment contract.
The notice you have to give your employer and what they have to give you are not always the same.
What notice I am entitled to?
If notice was never discussed – and it’s not uncommon for employees not to have received a written contract – then the law implies some minimum notice periods for you. Whatever your contract says, you can never be entitled to less notice than what statute says. These are the minimum periods:
- If you have worked between 1 month and 2 years – you are entitled to 1 week’s notice from your employer;
- If you have worked between 2 and 12 years – you are entitled to 1 week for every year worked, up to a maximum of 12 weeks.
The above periods are just a minimum. If your employment contract gives you more than statutory notice, then you will be entitled to receive the notice for the longer period.
In some circumstances you may be able to argue you are entitled to more than the statutory minimum. What is reasonable in the circumstances will depend on your industry and your seniority.
If you have received or been paid for less notice than you are entitled then you may have a claim for breach of contract or wrongful dismissal. Contact us today for free on 08000 614 631 and we will be able to tell you what you are entitled to, in confidence and without obligation.
What notice do I have to give my employer?
This is usually written into your contract. It can be changed if both you and your employer agree.
If you have never been told, don’t have a written contract or the contract doesn’t mention it, then you will usually have to give the statutory minimum notice to your employer. It is slightly different to the notice you are entitled to from them.
- When you have been employed for less than one month – you are not required to give any notice.
- Once you have worked a month, you must give 1 week’s notice.
Most employers will put in their contracts something to require you to give more than the statutory notice – typically three months – or they may mirror the statutory notice you are required to receive from them.
You can give notice verbally but to avoid a dispute arising, it is better to put it in writing – an email will do.
What if I want to give less notice than what my contract says?
If you wish to leave before the end of your contractual notice, you can. There is realistically not much your employer can do about it.
You cannot be forced to work – even though you may be in breach of contract. In some situations, an employer may be able to obtain an injunction – a court order – to stop you from working for a new employer during your notice period – but it is expensive and time consuming. Your old employer would have to show that your new employer is a direct competitor, and that there is a legitimate business interest to protect – this is not always easy to do.
In theory, you could be sued by your old employer for the costs they have incurred because of your breach of contract – but it is very rare. They might want to claim the cost of a replacement member of staff for the balance of your notice period. In the most serious cases, a claim can be made for business your employer lost because you left early. These claims are very rare and likely to only be brought against very senior employees.
Some employers will try to withhold your final pay because you didn’t give the right notice to leave. If this happens, call us today for free on 08000 614 631 and we will be able to tell you what you are entitled to, in confidence and without obligation.
Sometimes you have no alternative but to not work your notice.
Your working conditions could be intolerable, and you resign with immediate effect, in protest. We see many constructive dismissal claims. It is rare for someone to have worked their notice if they are claiming they have been bullied out of their job or discriminated against.
What should I be paid during my notice?
If you are working your notice, or have been put on garden leave by your employer (where you are not required to come in to work but remain employed), you will usually be entitled to receive your normal pay and benefits such as private health insurance, and pension contributions.
If your employer decides to pay you in lieu of notice (known as ‘PILON’), then you may not receive all your benefits as your contract comes to an end immediately. Your employer may prefer to do this. You are entitled to receive your normal pay during your notice period, as set out in your contract of employment.
In some circumstances you will be entitled to your full pay rather than Statutory Sick Pay despite not being well enough to work.
What is garden leave?
You may be asked not to attend work during your notice period, even though you continue to be paid. This is known as “garden leave” and you are expected to stay at home and not start new employment for the balance of your notice. You remain employed and continue to be subject to the terms of your employment contract such as confidentiality. You may be obliged to return work for all or some of the garden leave period at your employer’s request – usually to assist with a hand-over of work.
Whilst you are on garden leave, you will be entitled to full pay and company benefits, including bonuses. However, you may be required to take any outstanding annual leave during your notice period. Your employer can request you refrain from contacting their clients, customers, suppliers, or contacts without their prior consent.
Garden leave is popular with many businesses – especially when employing senior executives with important client contacts and confidential information. Putting you on garden leave keeps you a safe distance from your employer’s clients.
What is Pay in Lieu of Notice (or ‘PILON’)?
This is where you are paid for your notice without having to work it. This is often referred to as ‘PILON’. Most employment contracts contain a PILON clause.
Your contract may also say that you are not entitled to be paid for benefits such as car allowance, pension, or private health insurance if you are paid in lieu of notice. In other words, you receive just your basic salary. You would usually pay PAYE and National Insurance on your notice pay.
Where you have no PILON clause in your contract but your employer decides nevertheless to pay you in lieu, they are technically in breach of contract. They should include all the other benefits that you would have received during the notice period, such as pension rights, health cover and holiday pay, to put you in the same position that you would have been in if you had worked your notice. Some of the payments would not be subject to tax and National Insurance.
If you have restrictive covenants in your contract of employment, and your employer pays you in lieu of notice without having that right in the contract, you may be able to claim the restrictions on you don’t apply. You should take expert legal advice first before relying on this.
What do I do now?
This is where we come in. Employment law is all we do.
You need the best support and advice available. You need a specialist employment lawyer – one who will push for all the money you are owed.
We understand how it feels. We have helped hundreds of employees and because we act for businesses too, we know the tactics you’re likely to face from your employer. We know every trick in the book.
We will advise you of your options and how best to proceed to get you your money as quickly and cheaply as possible.
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