When an individual decides to leave their job, must give their employer some warning, this is called a ‘notice period’. The same applies where an employer dismisses an individual (including making them redundant), the only time an employer may not be required to give any notice is in instances of gross misconduct 

The length of the notice period is ordinarily stipulated in your contract and this should be at least the statutory minimum. If there are no contractual terms regarding notice periods, the statutory minimum periods apply as below.

  • If employed for one month to 2 years: at least one week’s notice.
  • If employed for 2 to 12 years: one week’s notice for every year.
  • If employed for 12 years or more: 12 weeks’ notice.
  • If an individual has been in a job for less than a month and there is no contractual term to the contrary, the individual is not required to give any notice.

It is always best ask an individual to put their resignation in writing. It should include how much notice they are giving and when their last day of work will be. A prudent employer should always respond to a resignation, ordinarily this would be to accept the resignation and confirming the leaving arrangements such as the return of company property and the position with any unused accrued/ overtaken holiday.  Where an individual has given insufficient notice, (either in accordance with their contract or by way of statue), an employer may decide to raise this with the individual to see if a resolution can be reached. If an individual does not give sufficient notice and leaves early, they may be in breach of contract and an employer may take the individual to court. 

An individual may give more notice than that stated in their contract. In these circumstances, an employer cannot make the individual leave early. Of course, the individual and the employer may agree a shorter notice period but if the individual does not agree, the employer would essentially be terminating the employment and the individual may have a claim for unfair dismissal. 

A notice period starts on the day after an individual resigns, therefore, if a week’s notice is given on a Monday, their last day at work will be the following Monday. 

Do employees have to work their notice period? 

If an individual has a contract saying they must work during their notice period, they must adhere to it. If an employer suffers a loss because an individual does not work their notice period and breaching the terms of their contract, they can take them to court however, an employer must be able to provide proof of the loss. This should always be a last resort, ideally an agreement  be made between the employee and employer. 

An individual may be required to work their notice if they resign but also if they are dismissed.


Pay in lieu of notice (PILON) is a type of severance pay, which is given instead of working.

Payment in lieu of notice means that instead of asking employees to work through their notice; the employment comes to an end before the notice is worked but the notice is paid in full. With this type of severance pay, the employee’s contract will end straight away. 

An employer should check in the employee contract whether there is a right to PILON. Generally, where there is no PILON clause, the employer may not be able to terminate the contract with immediate effect and if they do they may be in breach of contract. In these circumstances, the employer will need to pay an amount equivalent to the benefits/payments that the employee would have received had the had the opportunity to work their notice period. The employer may also have to pay an amount for holidays which would have accrued during the notice period. 

An employee may request PILON from an employer and the employer may agree. 

The decision by an employer to make PILON must be provided in writing to the employee. 

Summary Dismissal

In a summary dismissal where there has been an act of gross misconduct on the part of the employee, pay for a notice period is not necessary.

Gardening Leave 

Some employers will have a clause in the employee contracts which allows them to place the employee on gardening leave. In these circumstances, the exiting employee is not required to [attend] work but they are still paid during their notice period and their employment contract remains effective for the period of leave until the contract is terminated. The exiting employee cannot however commence work with a new employer until the notice period has come to an end. 

Gardening leave may be granted where someone is leaving to join a rival business, or if the leaver working their notice could jeopardise sensitive data or affect work operations.

Should you have any queries regarding notice periods or would like to speak to Absolute Works about our range of HR services then please speak to a member of the team on 0333 2005153 or drop us a line on info@absoluteworks.co.uk