Employers Guide to Notice Periods
By Joanne Hue, Last updated: 2023-02-06 (originally published on 2022-03-08)
Employment notice periods can be tricky. There might be confusion regarding notice periods at work, the meaning of notice period, notice periods at work for employees, Is 3 month notice period normal? etc. A few common questions which often arise are:
- What is the meaning of notice period?
Is 3 month notice period normal?
What are notice periods at work?
What should the length of the notice period be?
- When should it be given?
- Can it be withdrawn?
The meaning of the notice period is the time duration between the day of resignation and the last day of employment.
Whenever there is a dismissal of any employee, they have a legal right to get a considerable amount of notice. Whereas when an employee wishes to resign, he should give reasonable notice to his employer. Therefore, it is necessary for both parties to understand their obligations related to this so there is no breach of the contract of employment.
How many types of the notice periods are there?
The two types of notice periods are as follows:
- Statutory Notice: the statute sets out a time period for the notice which can be given by either party. The employees are entitled to be given a notice period by the employers depending upon their length of employment.
Where the employee was in employment for five years, the employee is entitled to get a five-week span in the absence of any agreement or contractual provision. Similarly, an employee who has worked for one month or more must give their employer the statutory minimum notice of one week.
- Contractual Notice: it is the period of notice which can be set by an employer in the contract of employment of the employee. This period may be either equal to or greater than the statutory period, but it can never be lesser than the statutory requirement. This means to say that the employer cannot shorten the period required by law by entering into an agreement. Where a longer period has been set out by the employer as compared to the statutory period, the contractual period will prevail over the statutory notice period.
For example, an employer may state within the contract of employment that an employee must give one month’s notice rather than the statutory minimum one week’s notice.
Dismissal without Notice
Certain circumstances may arise where an employer has to dismiss an employee without giving him any notice.
This is generally a case where the employee has committed an act of gross misconduct like theft, violence, or fraud. Clear examples should be given by the employer of what constitutes gross misconduct and the possible consequences in their disciplinary policy. The employer has to follow a procedure in order to ensure that a fair procedure is followed for the dismissal.
In the case of fixed-term contracts, there is no need to give notice by the employer upon the expiry of the fixed-term. However, where the contract is terminated by the employer by giving notice before the expiry date, the minimum notice should be given. The non-renewal of a fixed-term contract constitutes a dismissal and the claim of unfair dismissal may be brought by the employee if they have been in the service for over two years period.
Where the agreement is entered between the parties, the contract of employment can be terminated with no notice or a much shorter one. The employment contract may also contain express provisions which allow an employer to make a payment in lieu of notice, known as PILON.
A verbal notice can be given, but to be clear, it is always better to confirm the notice of termination of employment in writing.
Generally, during the notice period, the employees get paid their usual pay and benefits arising from the contract of employment. Also generating pay stubs will be the best solution for recording the amount of usual pay and the number of usual period hours.
Where either party employer or employee has given the notice, it cannot be withdrawn unless both parties agree. If a resignation has been given by the employee in the heat of the moment but later change their mind, the employee should immediately inform the employer and it will be upon the employer whether to accept the resignation or not. However, the employer can still consider the employee as having resigned.
Is 3 month’s notice period normal?
Yes, 3 month notice period is normal. It is added to the employment contract to protect the employer’s interests. It also allows you to find the replacement and minimize the work gap. Also, it’s quite common, particularly for more senior roles that require specialist skillsets.