How much do you know about notice periods?

When you want to give notice to an employee, or if they come to you wanting to leave your company, do you know enough about the legal procedure? Notice periods can differ depending on how long the employee has been employed. Take a look at our guidance on notice periods to help your business.

Always acknowledge a resignation in writing

When you receive notification from your employee that they wish to resign, you must acknowledge that resignation formally. This document can then confirm the notice period and plan towards agreed leaving date or other activity.

How long should periods of notice be?

Legally, there are statutory minimum periods of notice that you should adhere to, but these may be enhanced in your contracts of employment.

As Acas guidance states, there are two types of notice period: statutory and contractual. Statutory notice is the minimum legal notice that can be given.

Employers should give the employee:

  • one week’s notice if the employee has been employed by the employer continuously for one month or more, but for less than two years
  • two weeks’ notice if the employee has been employed by the employer continuously for two years, and one additional week’s notice for each further complete year of continuous employment, up to a maximum of 12 weeks. For example if an employee has worked for three years then they are entitled to three weeks’ notice.

The minimum that employees must give their employer, one week, is unaffected by longer service. However, as stated above, the terms and conditions of employment can enhance this. You may state in your employee’s contract of employment a period of one month, for example, or three months for managerial staff.

The contract can also allow for other issues that may arise during this notice period. For example:

  • During the notice period you may ask the employee to undertake different activities to their normal job.
  • You may pay them in lieu.
  • You may agree a mutually convenient leaving date.
  • You may put them on Garden Leave.
  • You may ask them to take accrued holiday or not take booked holiday.

Do employees on Fixed Term contracts need to give notice?

You will not need to give notice, nor would an employee, if the termination of employment comes at the end of the fixed term contract. However, if either party wishes to end employment before the expiration on the contract then the correct amount of statutory notice should be given.

Remember, if you fail to give the correct notice period to your employer, it may amount to a breach of contract. Employees could then make a claim to an employment tribunal.

To find out more about HR policy, employment contracts or notice periods, contact us today


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