Notice periods

Unless a temporary contract has naturally ended, or someone is being dismissed for gross misconduct, employees should work out, and be paid for, a notice period before their employment ends.


How long does a notice period have to be?


This depends on how long the person has worked for their employer.

The length of notice period is proportional to the employee’s length of service.

The table below sets out a summary of the relevant notice periods.

Length of Service Minimum Notice
Thirteen weeks to two years One week
Two to five years Two weeks
Five to ten years Four weeks
Ten to fifteen years Six weeks
More than fifteen years Eight weeks




If the employee has resigned, rather than being dismissed, by law, they should give 1 weeks’ notice, if they have been employed for over 13 weeks.

If a greater amount of notice is specified in the employee’s contract of employment, then this notice must be given.

In addition to the statutory notice periods mentioned above, employers are also able to use reasonable contractual notice periods to lengthen the notice period for staff.

These periods should be proportionate to the employee’s role.

There isn’t a set amount of notice required for employees who resign having been employed for less than 13 weeks, but even here, reasonable notice should be given by the employee, if possible.

You should ideally specify what period of notice you expect employees who resign to give, in the employment contract.


Notice in writing


Notice from the employer or employee should ideally be given in writing (email is fine as long as it is clear and contains sufficient detail; although we recommend you also send a letter at the same time).

The written notice should reference the date that the employment will (or is suggested to) end.


Does the employee need to be paid their normal wages during their notice period.


Yes. The employee should receive their normal wages for any time worked during their notice period.

And the same goes for their benefits, which also continue to be paid until they leave the company.

If you have a clause in your contract allowing you to do so, you may even pay the employee without them actually working their notice (known as ‘payment in lieu of notice’ – or PILON).

With payment in lieu of notice, the employee would be free to start a new job immediately – an alternative to this is for them to work their notice away from the office on full pay (known as gardening leave).


How does annual leave fit in with notice periods?


It remains unaffected.

Annual leave continues to be available to be taken and to accrue, even during the notice period.

If an employee still has holidays to use, they can apply to take it during their notice period, if they give their employer sufficient notice.

Equally, as the employer, you can instruct your outgoing employee to take their leftover annual leave during their notice period.

If the employee has already taken more or less annual leave than they’ve accrued, the employer can deduct or add on the necessary amount from their final pay.

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