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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Notice periods

When your employment ends you should normally give or be given a certain amount of notice. This could be extended by your contract of employment. Find out what notice your employer must give you.

Notice you must give your employer

If you have worked for your employer for one month or more, the legal minimum amount of notice you must give is one week.

Normally your employment contract will set out a longer notice period. If it does, you should give this length of notice to your employer.

If your employment contract does not set out a notice period you should give a reasonable period of notice to your employer. This is included in your employment contract as what is known as an ‘implied term’. What is 'reasonable' will depend on your seniority and how long you have worked there.

For further guidance you could contact Acas (the Advisory Conciliation or Arbitration Service) or another advisory body

Notice your employer must give you

Whatever your contract says, your employer must give you at least the statutory minimum period of notice, which depends on how long you've worked for them:

  • one week if you have been continuously employed for between one month and two years
  • one week for each complete year (up to a maximum of 12) if you have been continuously employed for two or more years

So, for example, if you have had six and a half years service, you will be entitled to six weeks' notice.

Fixed-term contracts

A fixed-term contract automatically ends (without notice) at its end date. This is a type of dismissal. If your employer ends the contract sooner than the agreed date it would be a breach of contract. You might be able to claim damages for your outstanding pay and any benefits due in the remaining fixed period.

These rights also apply to apprentices, who are normally on fixed-term contracts. If you remain with your employer after completing your apprenticeship, your time as an apprentice will count when calculating your statutory notice period.

Where the right to minimum notice does not apply

In some cases you may not be entitled to a minimum notice period before your employer dismisses you, for example if you are:

  • not an employee, for example an independent contractor or freelance agent
  • a seaman on a ship registered in the United Kingdom and you are part of a crew that follows the terms approved by the Secretary of State for Transport
  • a civil servant
  • a member of the armed forces

What to do next

If you haven't been given proper notice (for example, if you are told that your employment is to end straight away), you should ask for payment in lieu of notice (PILON) from your employer in writing. If you have at least one year's service you could also ask your employer for written reasons for your dismissal.

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