Aug 6, 2023

Notice Periods: What You Need to Know

What is a Notice Period?

A notice period is the time an employee must give their employer before resigning from their job or the time an employer must provide an employee before terminating their employment contract.

It is a contractual obligation that ensures a smooth transition for both parties. The notice period allows the employer to find a suitable replacement for the departing employee. It will enable the employee to secure a new job or make necessary arrangements before leaving their current role.

During the notice period, the employee is expected to continue working as usual, fulfilling their duties and responsibilities until their final day of employment. This period also gives the employer time to transfer the employee's workload, train a replacement, or make any necessary adjustments to their operations.

The length of the notice period is typically specified in the employment contract or company policy and can vary depending on the employee's position, tenure, industry standards, and whether the employee has been dismissed, made redundant, or resigned. Standard notice periods range from two weeks to several months, with more extended periods generally required for more senior or specialised roles.

Both parties must adhere to the notice period to maintain professionalism and minimise disruptions to the business operations. Failure to provide proper notice can result in legal consequences or financial penalties, as outlined in the employment contract or local labour laws. By following these guidelines, both parties can navigate the notice period with transparency, respect, and professionalism, ensuring a positive experience for all involved.

Notice periods lengths

For dismissal or redundancy

The employee must receive the 'statutory notice period' if the employer decides to terminate the contract. This legal minimum notice period varies depending on the employee's seniority. The employer may give more notice than the statutory minimum but cannot give the employee less.

  • Statutory notice equals 1 week if the employee has 1 month to 2 years of seniority
  • Statutory notice equals 1 week for each full year they have worked if the employee has 2 to 12 years of seniority
  • 12 years or more of seniority: statutory notice is 12 weeks

For example, if an employee has worked for their employer for ten years and nine months, they're entitled to a statutory notice period of 10 weeks.

Gross misconduct

If the employer believes the employee has done something severe enough to justify dismissal, the employee would not be entitled to the statutory notice period or any payment for it.

Specific rules and regulations govern the dismissal or redundancy process in the UK.

Mutual agreement

The employer and employee can agree to reduce the notice period if it suits both parties. Such agreements should be documented in writing.

Resigning due to a severe breach of contract

If the employee resigns because they are convinced that the employer has seriously breached the employment contract, they can consider a constructive dismissal claim that can affect the notice period.


For employees with less than a month of seniority:

In the United Kingdom, if an employee has been employed for less than one month and their written statement does not specify a notice period, they are not legally required to provide any notice before terminating their employment.

For employees with more than a month of seniority:

Employees who have worked for at least one month must provide a minimum notice period of one week before leaving. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Firstly, if the employer has seriously breached the employee's contract, such as insisting on an unreasonable relocation, the employee is not obligated to serve the notice period. Secondly, the employee and employer may mutually agree to an alternative arrangement, such as the employee taking leave instead of working the entire notice period. Note that writing and signing the agreement reached is essential to avoid any discussion.

If the employee does not give enough notice:

If the employee leaves without sufficient notice, the employee is likely to be breaching their contract.

In any case, read your contracts before submitting your resignation, as some employers include possible implications for employees who do not give enough notice.

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Giving notice as an employee

1. Refer to your contract or employee handbook for the required notice period.

2. Inform your direct manager or supervisor first, preferably in person, before submitting a formal written resignation letter.

3. In your resignation letter, clearly state your last day of work based on the notice period, express gratitude for the opportunity, and offer assistance during the transition.

4. Remain professional and avoid burning bridges, as you may need a reference or recommendation in the future.

Receiving notice as an employer:

1. Acknowledge the employee's resignation promptly and schedule an exit interview to understand their reasons for leaving.

2. Discuss the notice period and expectations, such as completing ongoing projects, training a replacement, or transitioning responsibilities.

3. Clarify the employee's final day of work, outstanding leave or benefits, and any equipment or property that needs to be returned.

4. Express appreciation for their contributions and wish them well in future endeavours.

Notice period etiquette and best practices:

1. Respect the notice period and avoid abruptly terminating employment or forcing the employee to leave early.

2. Maintain open communication and address any concerns or issues during the notice period.

3. Ensure a smooth knowledge transfer and document critical information or processes.

4. Avoid assigning new projects or tasks to the departing employee unless necessary.

5. Treat the employee with respect and professionalism, as they may be a valuable


The UK government provides resources and information on employees' rights during redundancy, and organisations like Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) offer advice and support on employment-related matters.

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