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Your notice period when resigning

This advice applies to Scotland

If you want to leave your job you’ll normally need to give your employer some warning. This is called your notice period.

Look in your contract to see the notice you need to give. If there’s nothing in your contract or terms and conditions, you should give at least 1 week’s notice.

It’s best to resign in writing, so there’s no argument about when you did it. Send a letter or email saying:

  • how much notice you’re giving
  • when you expect your last day at work to be

You can give more notice than your contract says, if you want - your employer can’t make you leave earlier. If they do make you leave earlier, this counts as sacking you. You should check if you can claim unfair dismissal.

Your notice period starts the day after you resign. This means if you give a week’s notice on Monday your last day at work will be the next Monday.

If you don't have a written contract

If you haven’t discussed a notice period and you don’t have anything in writing, you should give at least 1 week’s notice.

If your employer insists you’ve agreed to longer, ask them what records they have - for example notes from a meeting where you agreed.

If you want to give less notice

Ask your employer if they’ll agree to reduce your notice period. Reassure them that leaving early won’t cause them any problems - for example, agree to finish any urgent work. It can be worth reminding them that letting you leave early will mean they don’t have to pay you for as long.

If your employer doesn’t agree, but you want to leave early anyway, think about whether this would cost them any money. For example, if they’d need to get expensive agency staff to replace you at short notice, they could take you to court.

If you leave early, your employer still has to pay you for work you’ve done. If your employer refuses to pay, check what you’re owed and how to get it.

If you have a fixed-term contract

You don’t need to give notice if you want to leave on the last day of your contract.

If you want to leave before the last day of your contract, check if the contract says you can give notice. If it doesn’t say anything, you should give at least 1 week’s notice.

Getting paid in your notice period

You should get your full normal pay if you work during your notice period. This should include any work benefits you get, such as pension contributions or free meals.

If you’re off sick or on maternity leave, paternity leave or adoption leave you’ll only get whatever you would have been normally paid in those circumstances. For example you might only get statutory sick pay if you are off sick.

However, you’re entitled to full pay for 1 week of your notice period, whether you give notice of only 1 week or more than 1 week.

If you don’t get paid for working your notice period, check how to get the wages you’re owed.

Example

Kieran normally gets £300 a week, and gives 1 week’s notice. Usually if Kieran is off sick his employer only pays statutory sick pay of £89.35 a week. But if he's off sick for the week of his notice period he’ll still get his full pay of £300.

Sue also gets £300 a week, but she gives 4 weeks’ notice. Her employer also pays statutory sick pay of £89.35 a week. If she’s off sick for all 4 weeks of her notice period she’ll get full pay for 1 week. She’ll only get £89.35 per week for the other 3 weeks, instead of her full pay.

If your employer tells you not to work in your notice period

You should get the same amount of pay if your employer wants you to stop working as soon as you resign. Your employer might either:

  • pay all your notice pay at once and dismiss you straight away - this is called pay in lieu of notice or PILON
  • pay you as usual until the end of your notice period when your contract ends - this is sometimes called garden leave

If you get pay in lieu of notice

Pay in lieu of notice will give you a single payment with the same amount of money as if you’d worked for your notice period. It should include any work benefits you normally get, such as pension contributions. You'll pay tax as normal on your notice pay.

Money should be added to make up for any work perks you’d normally have. For example, if you have a company phone you can use for personal calls, you should get extra money to make up for not having this.

You can start other work or apply for benefits straight away.

If you get garden leave

On garden leave you’ll be paid at your usual times in your usual way - you’ll also pay your usual tax. You should keep all your perks and benefits, such as pension contributions or personal use of a company phone.

If you’re on garden leave, check if there are any extra rules in your contract. Some contracts say you can’t start another job while you’re on garden leave

Taking holiday in your notice period

You can ask to take holiday in your notice period, but it’s up to your employer to decide if you can take it. If you go on paid holiday in your notice period you’re entitled to your usual wage.

When you leave you’ll be paid for any holiday you have accrued but not taken, up to your first 28 days of holiday entitlement. This is called your statutory holiday entitlement. If you get more than 28 days a year (including bank holidays), this is called contractual holiday. Check what your contract says about leftover contractual holiday. You might still get paid for any days you don’t use.

Find out more about when you can take holiday - including what to do if you have any problems.

If your employer tells you to use up your holiday

Your employer can tell you to use up any holiday you have left over. They’ll also need to tell you when to take it.

Check your contract to see how far in advance your employer should tell you to take holiday. If there’s nothing in your contract, they need to give you at least 2 days’ notice for each day of holiday. For example, if they want you to take 5 days’ holiday, they have to tell you at least 10 days in advance.

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