Navigating Notice Periods: A Comprehensive Guide for Employees and Employers

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In this article, we’ll explain in detail what notice periods are, why they exist, how they work, and what employees and employers need to know about them.

The importance of notice periods

Notice periods are an important aspect of employment because they give employers time to plan for an employee's departure and make necessary arrangements. This can include finding a replacement employee, transferring responsibilities to other team members, and completing outstanding projects or tasks.

For employees, notice periods provide a buffer between leaving their current job and starting their next one. This can be especially important if an employee moves to a new role in a different industry or location or starts their own business. A notice period can give employees time to tie up loose ends, complete any necessary training or certification, and prepare for their new job.

In addition, notice periods are often a requirement for employment contracts or staff policies. Failing to comply with the notice period requirement can result in negative consequences for employers and employees, including legal action, financial penalties, and damage to professional reputations.

How notice periods work

Notice periods can be divided into two categories: notice periods for dismissal or redundancy and notice periods for resignation.

Notice Periods for Dismissal or Redundancy

Dismissed or made redundant employees are entitled to at least the statutory notice period. The statutory notice period is the legal minimum amount of notice that an employer must provide to an employee. This period depends on the employee's length of service with the employer. For example, an employee who has worked for an employer for 2 to 12 years is entitled to one week of notice for each full year of service.

Useful Read: What is Statutory Redundancy Pay? A Guide for UK Employers

It is important to note that the employee's employment contract or staff policy may specify a different amount of notice, known as contractual notice. An employer may provide more notice than the statutory minimum but cannot provide less.

Exceptions to the Statutory Notice Period

An employee may not be entitled to the statutory notice period in certain situations. For example, if an employee is dismissed for gross misconduct, they will not be entitled to any payment for the notice period. An employer and employee may agree to reduce the notice period if it works for both parties.

Notice Periods for Resignation

When employees resign, their written statement of employment particulars must specify how much notice they must give their employer. If the written statement does not specify this, an employee who has worked for their employer for less than a month is not required to give notice.

If an employee has worked for their employer for at least one month but has not received a written statement, they must give at least one week's notice unless an alternative arrangement has been made.

Consequences of not giving adequate notice

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Employees who want to leave their job without working their full notice should discuss options with their employer to find an alternative solution. If an employee does not give enough notice and the employer disagrees with an alternative, the employee may breach their contract.

It is important to note that employment contracts may include potential consequences for employees who do not give adequate notice. For example, an employee may be required to contribute to the cost of hiring an agency worker as a replacement.

Starting the notice period

The notice period starts the day after the employee tells their employer they are resigning, or if they are being dismissed or made redundant, the day after the employer tells them. If the employer provides written notice, the notice period begins after the employee has had a reasonable amount of time to read it.

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Options during notice periods

Instead of working their notice period, an employee may ask to leave early, be offered payment instead of notice (PILON), or be offered garden leave. In place of notice, an employer pays an employee instead of requiring them to work their notice period. Meanwhile, garden leave is when an employer tells an employee not to work during all or part of their notice period.

Payment instead of notice can be beneficial for both employees and employers. Employees may be able to start their new job earlier or take some time off between jobs. At the same time, employers can avoid the inconvenience and cost of having an employee who is not fully engaged during the notice period.

Garden leave can protect a company's interests, mainly if an employee is leaving to work for a competitor. During garden leave, an employee remains employed by the company but is not required to work. This can prevent them from sharing confidential information or poaching clients or customers.


Notice periods are an essential aspect of employment for both employers and employees. They provide a buffer between leaving a job and starting a new one and give employers time to plan for an employee's departure. Employers must ensure they provide the appropriate notice periods, while employees should know their rights and responsibilities. By understanding notice periods, both parties can ensure a smooth transition when an employee leaves a job.

Topic: Period
Rinaily Bonifacio

Written by:

Rinaily Bonifacio

Rinaily is a renowned expert in the field of human resources with years of industry experience. With a passion for writing high-quality HR content, Rinaily brings a unique perspective to the challenges and opportunities of the modern workplace. As an experienced HR professional and content writer, She has contributed to leading publications in the field of HR.


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