Do I Have to Work My Notice Period?

04 December 2019

If you don't want to work your notice period, you can try and agree a shorter notice period with your employer. If an agreement can't be reached to waive the notice period, and you refuse to work the notice period required by the employment contract, you will be in breach of contract. Under these circumstances your employer will not be required to pay your notice, as we explain below under Contractual Notice Pay.

Statutory Notice Pay

Statutory notice is the minimum legal notice that is required to terminate employment. If you have been employed for one month and you're handing in your notice as an employee, you must give your employer a minimum of one week's notice.

Or if your employer is giving you notice, then as an employee the statutory notice that you are entitled to depends on how long you have been continuously employed for. If you have been continuously employed for one month or more, but for less than two years, you are entitled to receive one week's notice and pay. If you've been employed for two years or more, you're entitled to two weeks' notice and pay, plus one week's pay for each year of continuous employment, up to a maximum of 12 weeks' pay.

Contractual Notice Pay

An employer can set out a contractual notice period in the employment contract. This cannot be less generous than your statutory entitlement, and will usually be longer than the statutory notice period.

As an employee you can try to agree a shorter notice period with the employer. If no agreement is reached, and you refuse to work the notice period required by your employment contract, you'll be in breach of contract and your employer will not be required to pay your notice.

Your employer also has the right to bring a claim for damages against you in a Civil Court for the cost of any loss to their business. Although the likelihood of this is rare, since it is usually very hard for an employer to identify any financial loss as a result of an employee's early departure.

However, you should be mindful that if you require a favourable reference from your employer then it is not advisable to refuse to work your notice period.

Exceptions to Working Notice

In some cases, your employer may place you on 'garden leave' during your notice period. This is where the employee is not required to attend the workplace, although they remain an employee until their last day of employment. They can remain on garden leave until their notice period has expired, and they will be paid their notice even though they are not attending work.

If an employee is dismissed for gross misconduct, however, they will not be required to work their notice period and in return are unlikely to receive any notice pay. Or if an employee resigns due to a fundamental breach of contract by their employer, it may not be necessary for them to give notice.

Pay In Lieu of Notice (PILON)

Pay in lieu of notice is made to an employee where their employment is terminated without notice, instead of the employee working their notice period.

The employment contract may allow for a PILON to be made, and in these circumstances the termination of employment will be immediate. Without a PILON term in the employment contract, any such payment in lieu of notice is likely to be considered a breach of contract and the employee may be entitled to make a claim for damages. Any PILON payment will be subject to deductions for tax and national insurance.

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