If you want to leave your job or your employer gives you notice that they are dismissing you, then you should follow certain steps to make sure your employment contract isn’t broken. Find out what these steps and what your employment rights are.
You or your employer can give notice on any day. Normally the notice period will run from the start of the following day. For example, if you give notice on a Monday, your notice period will start on the Tuesday and will finish at the end of Monday.
You should read your contract of employment. If it lays out a different process for when notice can be given or when your notice period will run, you and your employer must follow the agreement in your contract.
Not giving the proper notice
The duty to give notice should be part of your employment contract. If either you or your employer doesn’t give the right notice then this will be a breach of contract. This can occur:
- if the contract requires notice to be given in writing but it was only given verbally
- if not enough notice (or none at all) is given
You can choose to agree a shorter notice period with your employer. Your employment will then finish on the agreed date and you will only be paid for the agreed period.
If you want to change how you and your employer manage your notice you should try and come to some agreement with your employer and if possible get this put in writing.
If you have been dismissed without notice or constructively dismissed
Your employer has the right to dismiss you without notice (summary dismissal) if you have committed gross misconduct. Similarly, you have the right to regard yourself as having been dismissed without notice when your employer is in serious breach of contract (constructive dismissal).
Payment in lieu of notice or ‘PILON’
Pay in lieu of notice is money paid to you as an alternative to being given your full notice. It can either be set out in your employment contract as an option for your employer or it may simply be paid to cover any potential damages for breach of contract.
If there is a pay in lieu of notice clause in your contract, the amount you will get will normally be set out there. If not, it is up to you and your employer to agree an amount. Sometimes you may be willing to accept a small amount if it is in your interests to leave early.
The amount you get will normally cover everything that you would have earned during your notice period. This will cover your basic pay and may include other things, for example commission or compensation for the loss of benefits (eg a personal use of a company car, phone, or medical insurance).
Your employer might decide to give you the use of benefits like a company car for the notice period. If you don’t think the amount your employer is offering covers what you would have earned, you can still consider making a breach of contract claim.
You may be given notice by your employer and be told to stay away from work during your notice period. This is called ‘garden leave’ and is often used to stop employees working for competitors for a period of time.
It’s helpful to your employer because an employee in that situation is still covered by any contractual duties (eg a duty of confidentiality) until the end of the notice period. You can be brought back to work if needed. During gardening leave you are entitled to your normal pay and any company benefits.
What to do if you have a problem
If you have a complaint with how your employer has given you notice you should try to sort out the problem with them informally. If this doesn’t work you can follow your company’s grievance procedures.
If you and your employer still can’t resolve the issue then you might be able to make a complaint to an Employment Tribunal for breach of contract.
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