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A Guide to Your Notice Period

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What You Need to Know

  1. Your contract will outline exactly how much notice you are obliged to give before leaving.
  2. You are normally expected to work through your notice period, but often employers will willingly cut this period short.
  3. Your employer also has to give you notice if they want to let you go. The legal minimum is 1 week if you’ve worked for them for less than two years. If you’ve worked two years, you’ll get 2 weeks notice, with an extra week for every additional year you’ve been employed, up to 12 weeks.
  4. If you work with sensitive information the company wouldn’t want outsiders to see, you may be offered gardening leave. This means you will be expected to stay away from work until you join your new job. You will be paid during this period.
  5. Holiday pay can often be a grey area. If you have outstanding holiday pay available when you decide to leave, you may be able to take pay in lieu of the time off. However, if you’re asked to take it during your notice period, you will normally have to do so.
  6. If you are worried and haven’t received official confirmation of redundancy yet you may want to consider Income and Mortgage Protection Insurance its free to get a quote.
  7. If your salary is partly formed by bonuses, check your contract to see if these are awarded quarterly or annually. You may have to tactically time your resignation to ensure you still receive your bonus.

If you’ve found a new job and want to move on to fresh pastures, there are a few things that you’ll need to take care of. As well as organising your leaving party, there are several work-related issues concerning pay, your notice period, holidays and bonuses that you will need to clarify before you leave. This is the time to dust down your employment contract and have a good read.

Your Employment Contract

Your employment contract should state how much notice you must give when you want to resign. This can vary from a few weeks to several months depending on your status and the length of time you’ve worked for your employer.

You are normally expected to work through your notice before leaving the company. However, in some cases, either you or your employer will want to cut short the notice period so that you can leave more quickly.

The general – although by no means universal – rule is that if you ask your employer if you can leave before your notice is up, you should not expect to get paid for the part of your notice you don't serve. On the other hand, if your employer asks you to leave early, they would have to pay you for the full notice period. Remember, though, that this is a general rule only and you will have to refer to your own contract to confirm this.

Your Statutory Notice Period

Notice periods apply to both employers and employees. Just as you're required to give a certain amount of notice if you want to leave, your employer has to give you notice if they're going to let you go.

According to the Government’s Business Link website, the minimum legal notice period given by both employees and employers is:

  • 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.

However, employers can include longer notice periods in contracts, so double check yours before handing in your notice.

‘Gardening Leave’

You may be lucky enough to be offered “gardening leave” by your company. This means you must serve out a period of notice at home and still receive salary and benefits. You can’t start your new job until the gardening leave period – which can be several months – has expired.

You might be offered gardening leave if you have access to confidential information or customers and are leaving to join a rival firm, as it gives your current employer time to protect sensitive information that you could otherwise use in your next job.

Your Final Pay Cheque

With many companies, salary is paid monthly in arrears on the last day of each month. If you're resigning from your job, you will not collect your last pay packet on your last day at work, but a month later. If you want the money immediately, you may be able to change the date you get paid by talking to your manager or HR department.

Holiday Pay

When you resign, you may have leave owing to you. For example, if your notice period is four weeks and you've calculated that you have five working days’ holiday to take before you leave the company, you need to clarify whether you must take that week's holiday in your notice period or whether you can get paid for it instead.

If you have holiday days left over when you hand in your notice, your employer can force you take your holiday in your notice period. If your boss asks you to take your holiday and you refuse, your manager may be able to withhold any money in lieu of holiday to which you would have been entitled.

If your boss does not demand that you to take your holiday allocation, you have two options. The first is to take your holiday as part of your notice period. Alternatively, if you don't want to take your holidays you may receive compensation in lieu of holiday. Bank holidays are not normally counted as days for which a company needs to reimburse you.

To clarify any further grey areas, such as if you have holiday carried over from a previous year, talk to your boss or HR department.

Once you’ve resigned, make sure you put in a claim for any outstanding expenses.

Working Out Your Bonus

If part of your salary is paid as a bonus, calculating how much you are entitled to can be a tricky affair. Firms use bonus payments to engender loyalty among staff or as an incentive to meet targets. For example, your employer may run a bonus scheme that is paid relating to the amount of profit the company made in the last financial year. You need to know whether you have to wait until the end of the year before resigning. Even if bonuses are paid out quarterly, you need to find out whether you should wait until the end of the next quarter before handing in your notice.

These details should be in your employment contract, but have a word with the HR department if you’re unsure.

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59 comments - Want to comment on this article? Click here
Lucie Lucie
15/09/2014

I'm on the sick due stress caused by bulling in the work place and I've decided I can't go back can hand in my notice but stay on the sick how much notice should I give

 
sha sha
23/06/2014

I have been offered a job I need to give my present employer 4 weeks notice I,m due an operation can I use this as my 4 weeks notice

 
vikki vikki
30/05/2014

I have given my 4 weeks notice as stated in my contract, i have booked some annual leave that is owed to me during this time to on induction days at my new job but my boss hasn't approved them do i have any rights?

 
siobhan siobhan
18/04/2014

Hi I handed my one weeks notice in and on the 3rd day they told me to leave will I get paid for the rest of the week or not?

 
Gordon Gordon
15/04/2014

Contract says employer can give me one months notice, I am paid monthly but my signed contract says I need to work 3 months notice

can I get out earlier?

 
Philip Philip
03/04/2014

Hi, my employer recently extended my notice period from 1 month to 3 months but I did not explicitly agree to this and they did not ask me to sign a new contract. As my original contract states 1 month notice can they force me to work 3 months?
Thanks

 
Chan Chan
19/01/2014

I am being made redundant, I have the following query regarding taking garden leave option.

My redundancy terms of agreement states that I am being given 2 months notice period from the 31st January, this being my exit date. Notice period is worked on the basis of years of complete service.

My employment start date was 1st April 2005.

On taking garden leave the 2 months’ notice brings the termination date to 31 March 2014. This date now gives me 9 complete yrs. of service.

Garden leave stipulates I am still an employee with no break in service and all T + C's remain the same.

The employer’s policy states that for 9 years and over of completed service my notice period goes up from 2 months to 3 months.

Am I correct in assuming this will therefore increase the termination date by an extra month to the 30th April 2014 and in turn increasing my redundancy payout?

Thank you.

 
Lisa Lisa
15/01/2014

Hi ,

I have been with my company for 3 years now and have always been at a 1 month notice period. I've received and email today which states that my notice period is increased to 3 month. Is this a change i can contest or refuse? Can they change the notice period without a new agreement and without my signature on them? Am I suppose to contest it in writing so there is a record for it? Will I have to supply them of any reason to refuse the 3 month notice period?

Thanks
Lisa

 
ANNE W ANNE W
14/01/2014

Hi
I have been signed off work for eight and a half months with work related stress.
I have tried for a settlement package to leave the company after working for them for twelve years, they appear not to want to give me a penny.
I am now not receiving anything.
If I were to give notice would I be entitled to full pay for that without having to return back to work.

 
Ryan Ryan
10/12/2013

I have been offered a new job which pays better than my current one, however I have a lot of duties in my current role that nobody else deals with at present. I like my current job for the most part and do not want leave my current employer in a situation with which it can't cope. I am thinking about offering to extend my leaving date for a month longer than my one month notice period to allow me to train up staff as necessary and have a smooth transition. The new employer is flexible with my start date. I have yet to submit my resignation but do you think that my current employer will be glad of my offer?

 
Kieron Kieron
09/12/2013

Hi I have handed in my notice on the 9/12/2013 I have to give 4 months so far this year to present I have had 13 days holiday. I have worked 8 months from April to the end of December I get 28 days a year but 8 are bank holidays. My boss is paying me for the 23rd and 24th and 27th of December which will take my holiday pay to 16 days. Am I entitled to 20 days pay or not as I haven't worked till April. Can anyone help Thank you.

 
Nancy Nancy
29/11/2013

Hi
I am a contractor, and signed a contract less than a month back for a 3 months job, which requires a month's notice from either side.
Recently I have received another offer which I am very keen to take on. But new employer not willing to wait for 1 month.
How can I or can I easily leave the current role with just 1 week's notice and start new contract? I am yet to be paid for the 4 week's that I have worked in the current contract.
Thanks,
Nancy

 
Kay Kay
17/11/2013

Hi I'm being made redundant as my post is being deleted in the current structure. I have opted for voluntary redundancy as the posts on offer to apply for were significantly lower grades. I have been accepted for VR and I am on a 12 weeks notice period. I work for an educational establishment and under the redundancy modification order I cannot work for another employer listed on that order without breaking my service for 4 weeks or I will forfeit the VR pay which I can't afford to do I have however, been offered another job with an employer that is a body under the order. They are prepared to wait for me to work my 12 weeks notice and then break my service for 4 weeks BUT they would like me to try and negotiate with my current employers if I could leave my 12 weeks notice earlier, thus bringing my actual start date with them forward. Given that if I wasn't being made redundant I would still be with the company what would be the chances of my negotiating this and what are my rights? I've got a meeting about this tomorrow! I'd like to be paid for the 12 weeks as financially this is in my contract and my existing job is at a higher rate of pay than my new job but I don't want to mess my new employers about as they are keen for me to start asap.
Thanks

 
Colin Colin
29/10/2013

My employer wants to change all my conditions ,pay,pensions holidays etc and issue me with a new contract. Do I still have to work my three month notice if I do not want to sign this new contract.
Thanks
Colin

 
Jess Jess
20/09/2013

I've worked in a pub on a zero hour contract (though I never signed a contract) for a year now. I handed in my resignation on Wednesday and worked that night and Thursday, but I start my new job on Saturday so can't work then. My boss has asked the assistant manager to tell me I'm barred from the pub for a month due to not working my weeks notice. Can she legally do this? Especially since she sometimes only gives staff 2 days notice as to if we're working the weekend or not.

...fuming.

 
edwards edwards
12/09/2013

I have worked for a company for 7 months and I am now opening my own business. I only needed to give 1 weeks notice but have given 3 weeks. I am now 1 week into my notice period and I get the impression they want me to go. Are they allowed to do this after having accepted my notice period of 3 weeks?

 
Jeremy Jeremy
06/09/2013

I have handed in my notice but the contract states 3 month period if I leave early without the company I work for approval what is the consequences

 
Simon Simon
25/08/2013

My notice is 3 months and my job is sensitive where all of my last 8 colleagues have been put on instant gardening leave. The reason I am resigning is because of the my boss and I have been told told to report to work where I will be assigned "other duties" . I have felt this for a long time that I am getting treated unfairly. Can I raise each "other duty" with HR as often as I want. I could go on and on, please help

 
jayne jayne
20/07/2013

hi, my husband gave in his notice which has bin signed, is to end on the 21st July but the system says he finishes on 21 Aug, personnel had made the mistake and now has a board meeting about this matter, can they keep him there until Aug

 
Rhona Rhona
15/07/2013

I have just resigned and had to give 6mths notice. They are stating that I am not allowed to take any of my holiday entitlement during this period, despite the fact that I would not have a had a day off in 9mths and had to work 632 1/2hrs overtime over the last 15wks. They are trying to discredit me by asking colleagues for print outs of my facebook page, and have already hired a new person for my role (only resigned last week)

 
Tom Tom
04/07/2013

I have been working at a firm for 18months. Only an exchange of letters were used as a contract when I started (setting out holiday and pay - but not notice periods). I therefore am assuming that I can go by the stat min of a week (and could give my employer longer by negotiation - as a week does seem quite short, and the firm is very small)

Thanks

 
Praveen Praveen
03/07/2013

My notice period was 2 months, and I had served 40 days notice and completed the transition successfully to my repplacement. There is no loss to my employer in anyway, due to my early leaving. But my employer is now asking me to pay any shortfall of the notice period. Would there be anything that supports me in getting me paid for the days I worked?

 
Marialouiseready@hotmail.co.uk Marialouiseready@hotmail.co.uk
12/06/2013

My son worked as an apprentice at shop for a year then got taken on permanently so been there 2.5 years now and us 18, he had booked to go in holiday for ten days in 1 July but after a disagreement with another person in the shop decided he couldn't work there anymore, his contract (which he never signed) states one months notice so he gave the month notice which would include his holiday, he has been told he can't do that and that he has to work or won't get his owed holiday pay (10 days for 6 months) can they do this? On top if that they are now giving him lots of cleaning and other jobs to do which are outside what he has always been required to do and his boss said to him that they could get rid if him today if they wanted to however he wants to do the right thing and get a reference. Thanks maria

 
Colin Colin
09/06/2013

I'm required to work a 3 month notice for a supervisors role within the company.

I gave them 6 weeks noticed but have only worked 3 weeks and wont be returning.

My replacement started with the company the week after my notice was handed in.

My boss is now claiming that the contract will be pursued as they need to recover costs.

Can you give me any confirmation or help?

 
Victoria Victoria
08/06/2013

I have worked for 2 weeks with my current employer and I wish to resign. My contract states that I am in a 6 month probation period during which I have to give 1 month's notice. After my probation period it rises to 3 months notice.
You say that there is no notice period to serve until you have worked a month - is that true given the above contractual condition?

 
Susan Susan
05/06/2013

I've worked for a small company for 15 years, I handed in my notice and said I will be giving 1 weeks notice. My boss was not too pleased as he said I should be giving more notice!

 
UK Net Guide UK Net Guide
03/06/2013

Hi Jon,

If they were to engineer such a situation it would be considered destructive dismissal. They would need a genuine reason for letting you go, such as gross misconduct.

Hi Steve,

You’d be in breach of contract and could be sued for damages.

Hi Dilan,

That would normally be the case, yes. Normally, you would receive notice in writing to make the start date clear, but it can also be given orally.

Hi Tom,

Unless you’ve been there a very long time, that’s considerably longer than your statutory notice period would be. They cannot enforce a longer period without your consent.

Hi Matt,

There’s no notice period to serve until you’ve been working a month.

 
steve steve
01/06/2013

My company recently changed out contract of employment, one of the new conditions is that i have to give 3 months notice. I requested that we keep the 1 months notice, this wasn't agreed as part of the consultation.
I have now been offered a new job and id like to leave early. What are the consequences of me not fulfilling my notice period ?

 
Jon Jon
17/05/2013

Hi,

I have a 3month notice period on my contract.
I am willing to work out my notice period for the full term and don't want to negotiate it for a shorter term.

Can the company legally force me out early on the grounds that there is no work for me? (i.e. take me off projects and not put me on new ones?) - or do they have to honour the 3 months and pay me whether they give me work or not?

Thanks

 
dillan dillan
15/05/2013

hi
i have accepted a redundancy package, but when does working out my notice start, is it from the date i accepted the package, i asked h/r 3 weeks ago and have heard nothing?
thanks

 
Tom Tom
08/05/2013

I never signed a contract when I joined work and am now going to move on to pastures new. My employer is likely to want me to work 2 months notice - as some (not all) others in my company have done in the past - but I would prefer to only work one months notice.I have never signed, or verbally agreed to, a two month notice period. Can my employer force me to work two months by arguing two months is a reasonable notice period? Thanks!

 
Ross Ross
07/05/2013

I have given my employer my statutory notice period of one month. I have requested that I be able to use 4 days holiday owed and my 2 days off on either side thus shortening my actual working time. I have had no response for 4 days, is there a set time limit on when they have to let me know if this arrangement is aceptable?

 
matt matt
07/05/2013

Hi there,

I've worked in a job for 2 days and haven't yet signed a formal contract or any for that matter.

Should I be required to work a weeks notice?

 
UK Net Guide UK Net Guide
07/05/2013

Hi David,

No it wouldn't since they're asking you to stay. It would be constructive dismissal if they attempted to engineer a situation they could use to sack you.

 
David David
03/05/2013

I am currently working through my 6 month notice period, and with 2 months to go I have completed all the assigned tasks and handover. My role involves handling new business and sensitive data. After handing in my notice I have been excluded from the activities which is effectively preventing me from completing the role I was employed for. I have asked to be released 2 months early on the grounds that I am unable to perform my role, but my employer has refused. Does this constitute constructive dismissal?

Thanks

 
UK Net Guide UK Net Guide
30/04/2013

Hi Beth,

They aren't able to shorten the notice period stated in the contract without your approval.

Hi Warren,

That's an unusually long period, but yes. They can claim damages against you if you breach your contract by refusing to serve the agreed notice period without their consent.

However, you should find it possible to come to an agreement with them. If you give your notice, they will have to pay you for the entire period (they won't be able to let you go without raising a strong case for constructive dismissal) whilst knowing that you'd rather leave. This isn't particularly in their interest, so you should be able to reach a compromise...

Hi Lauren,

It's possible that they'd make you serve the full period, but you'd hope they'd be reasonable and let you leave early in exchange for, say, you giving up your unused holiday pay. The only way to know is to ask. Obviously, you may not wish for them to know that you'd like to leave, so it is something of a gamble...Perhaps you could approach a friend in HR discreetly?

 
Beth Wilkins Beth Wilkins
29/04/2013

Hi, I've worked for my employer for 3 years. My contract says notice period is 1 month from employee, and 1 week from employer. I gave 1 month notice, and my employer then gave contra notice of 1 week, saying I would be paid 1 week's pay. Do they have to honour my one month notice as per my contract and pay it? Or is it true that they have to pay 1 week for every year worked regardless of the contract, therefore 3 weeks pay?

 
Lauren Lauren
25/04/2013

According to my contract I have to give a months notice, I have heard that sometimes employers can be flexible but the woman who does the same job as me goes on holiday two days before the new job would start. The new job would start on the 7th and I have been offered the job if I want it. What can I do?

 
Warren Burrows Warren Burrows
24/04/2013

I have lined up a new job but have a six month notice period to work through. Can I just refuse to work such a long notice period? If so, will they sue me for breach of contract?

 
UK Net Guide UK Net Guide
23/04/2013

Hi Andy, Contrary to popular belief, employers aren’t legally required to even provide detailed job descriptions. Furthermore, typically a job description will include a phrase such as ‘other duties as assigned’ as a way of covering contingencies where you may be required to carry out tasks the fall outside your normal duties. Of course, if the tasks are not reasonably doable it would be sensible to raise objections, but as job descriptions are not usually contractual there’s not really anything to stop them from altering your role.

 
Andy Andy
22/04/2013

I am being made redundant and my employers are requiring me to work through my notice period. However they have said that I do not have enough work on and have given me some extra tasks to complete which are outside of my job role. Can they do this even though I have never been asked to do this in my two years I have worked at the company. What can I say to them?

 
UK Net Guide UK Net Guide
16/04/2013

Hi Prashant,

Your resignation doesn’t need to be approved by anyone. It’s effective once you give it. Your notice period starts when you tell your employer it does.

Hi Claire,

It should say in your contract, but it will be at least a week.

Hi L.Cooper

They should provide payment in lie of notice if they want you to serve a shorter notice period than your contract stipulates. They can’t shorten it without your agreement.

Hi Sara,

Your rights depend on how notice you were supposed to begin. If you were supposed to serve a month you may be able to negotiate the right to leave early by giving up some benefits you’re entitled, such as unused holiday for example.

If you leave before giving proper notice you can potentially be sued for damages.

Hi Barry,

Yes, you can use your time off to look for another job. You can also look another job during your notice period. You won’t be entitled to extra holiday as a direct result of having a longer notice period, unless your contract says otherwise.

Hi Natalie,

You should check your contract or consult your HR department.

Hi Sam,

That depends. If he asked you to take your holiday before leaving and you refused you may not be entitled to pay in lieu of holiday.

Hi Julie,

If you have no contract you aren’t employed in any legal sense, so you won’t need to give any notice.

Hi Greg,

No they can’t force you to shorten the notice period without your agreement. They may negotiate to get you to leave by offering you an incentive, but they’re breaching the contract if they attempt to do so without your consent. If they were to ‘get you out the door’ it would most likely constitute constructive dismissal.

 
prashant prashant
16/04/2013

PLease tell me notice period is counts from day of resign or from day of approval of resign

 
Claire Claire
06/03/2013

I am on a temporary contract through an agency. The contract is 6 months and I am now 2 months into my contract. What is my notice period?

 
L.cooper L.cooper
11/02/2013

i have handed my months notice in and the employer has told me i can leave at the end of the week.
am i entitled to my full months notice pay.

 
Sara Sara
24/01/2013

I handed my notice in today and gave 1 week but was tols that I should have given 1 month, what rights do I have, and my new employer wants me to start after my 1 notice.

 
barry arnold barry arnold
11/12/2012

my firm has put me on 12 weeks notice am i allowed time off to look for another job

 
Natalie Natalie
18/10/2012

My question is about profit related bonus. I am due to receive a bonus in my November salary for profit made between March - August. It i were to submit my resignation effective from 1st november would my bonus still be payable. I am contracted to work 2 months notice so would still be employed on the payment date. Alternatively i would need to wait another month before handing in my notice

 
sam chapman sam chapman
30/08/2012

Hi I left my job as a bar man in a pub roughly 7 weeks ago after a heated exchange with my employer. I had worked for him for 9 months and took 4 days holiday in that time which he paid me for. When I left i contacted him for my outstanding pay but he said there was nothing outstanding is this right?

 
julie unsworth julie unsworth
20/08/2012

have worked for a company for 5months how much notice do i have to give i have no contract

 
Greg Greg
16/07/2012

I am emigrating to Australia in October, I have worked for a company for 20 years and I do not want to cause any unnecessary issues for them when I leave as I am a manager. I was going to give them 2 or 3 months notice so they can find a replacement and I can help them settle into the job before I leave. I am not following the same career path in Australia so there are no issues with loyalty or a conflict of interests but I am concerned that once I resign they will just want me out of the door. Can they push me out earlier than the date I give them without paying me off?

 
Andrea Andrea
14/07/2012

I have been with my employer for 18 years and wish to leave. As I have been there for over 16 years I am required to give 12 weeks notice. However I am currently on long term sick and not likely to return. Will this affect notice periods pay etc?

 
mark mark
10/07/2012

will finding another job before notice period ends have any penalties

 
Priti Tailor Priti Tailor
08/07/2012

My department is going through a restructure, intially i asked to step down from my job & thought I would be pay protected, They accepted this but I never signed any new contract & my new job has not yet started. Whilst still in my current role I decided to resign as a senior & handed in my resignation. My notice period is two months. They have advised that til 8th July i would be paid at my current rate & then from 9th July I will be expected to work in the lower role with lower pay until the end of my notice period 4/9/12. Can they do this & if they can should may notice period not be one month in line with the lower role

 
Andrew Andrew
03/07/2012

I'm a teacher covering a maternity leave at a school, my initial letter of temporary employment did not state the end date of my employment so I presume I'm on a temporary contract rather than a fixed-term contract. The summer hols start at the end of next week. I've been told that the teacher I've been covering, since last October is due back on the first day of the holidays so that she receives her holiday pay. Nothing has been forwarded to me in writing. Does this mean that I should also persue holiday pay because they haven't formally informed me of my end date?

 
suzanne suzanne
18/06/2012

Hi I have to give 8 weeks holiday, but I am owed 11 days holidays, i was hoping to finish up work early but my boss says no, She says she cant give me my holidays and that she will pay me for them.. I told her not happy about that and she said well thats what happening. What can I do about it

 
Muriel Muriel
07/06/2012

My contract stipulated that I had to give one month's notice, which I did. My employer subsequently miscalculated my leaving date by 1 day, which I discovered after having been paid, because it resulted in a loss of salary for that day.

Given that I was never consulted on the matter and never agreed to working less than my official notice period after resigning should my employer still pay me the outstanding salary because the calculation error was theirs, not mine?

Best, Muriel

 
Sammy Sammy
27/04/2012

Can anyone tell me the law around an employer who wants to increased your notice period. Do I have any rights ? I have been with the company just under two years and am very well respected. My contract states 4 weeks they want to increase it to 2 months.

 
Dimitre Ivanov Dimitre Ivanov
08/04/2012

I'am self employed,but I have Limited Company.Can I joint the union.Thanks Ivanov

 

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