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Your notice period during dismissal

This advice applies to Wales

Your job won’t always end straight away if you’re dismissed - you’ll stay at work for a time and keep getting paid. This is called your notice period. It’s usually at least a week long.

Check when your notice period starts

If your employer tells you in person that you’re being dismissed, your notice period usually starts the day after you're told you’re dismissed unless your contract says something different. So if you're given a week's notice on Monday, it starts on Tuesday and finishes the following Monday.

If your employer dismisses you by letter or email, your notice period starts on the day after you read it unless your contract says something different. So if your employer sends you on Monday a letter giving you a week’s notice but you don’t read it till the Wednesday, the notice starts on Thursday and finishes the following Wednesday.   

The case reference for this is Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust v Haywood (2017).

If your employer tells you not to come to work for your notice period they still have to pay you for it.

It’s worth checking you’ve got the right notice period and that you’ve been paid for it. 

Once you’ve checked what you’re owed there are steps you can take if your employer doesn’t pay you correctly.

You won’t get a notice period if you’re dismissed for committing gross misconduct - for example violence or stealing. This is sometimes called ‘summary dismissal’. Check if you’ve been unfairly dismissed if you’re accused of gross misconduct.

Find out what notice period you get

The minimum notice your employer can give you is called ‘statutory notice’. You'll get at least your statutory notice even if your contract says you get less. The only times you won’t be entitled to statutory notice are if:

  • you’ve worked for your employer less than a month
  • you’re an agency or casual worker
  • you’re self-employed

If you’re on a zero-hours contract you’ll only get statutory notice if you count as an ‘employee’. One sign of being an employee is if you can’t refuse the hours your employer offers you.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you’re not sure if you get statutory notice.

If you’re entitled to statutory notice, your minimum amount of notice is:

Time with your employer Minimum notice
1 month to 2 years 1 week
2 years or more 1 week for each full year, up to a maximum of 12 weeks

For example, if you've worked for your employer for 5 years and 10 months you get 5 weeks' notice

Check your contract for a notice period

Look in your contract or staff handbook for a notice period. You might get this even if you aren’t entitled to statutory notice. For example, your contract might say everyone gets at least 4 weeks’ notice. This is called contractual notice. 

You'll get contractual notice if it's longer than any statutory notice you're entitled to. If your statutory notice is longer, or they're the same length, you'll get statutory notice instead.

Your contract can be written, a verbal agreement or what normally happens in your company. It might also be called your 'terms and conditions'.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice for help if you’re not sure what notice you get, or if you don’t get statutory or contractual notice.

Example

Alice and Mo both have contracts saying they get 4 weeks of contractual notice.

Alice has worked for her employer for 2 years. This gives her 2 weeks of statutory notice. Her contractual notice is longer, so if she’s dismissed she gets 4 weeks’ notice.

Mo has worked for his employer for 6 years. This gives him 6 weeks of statutory notice. This is longer than his contractual notice period, so if he’s dismissed he gets 6 weeks’ notice.

If you’re on a fixed-term contract

Fixed-term contracts will usually either have a start and end date, or run for the length of a particular task. The type of fixed-term contract you have will affect your notice period.

Your contract runs for the length of a particular task

You’ll get at least a statutory notice period if you're on a contract which runs for the length of a particular task. Check your contract, as it might give you more notice.

For example, if you've worked for your employer for 2 years, you have the right to at least 2 weeks’ statutory notice.

Your contract has start and end dates

You won’t get a notice period if your job ends on the date set in your contract.

If you’re dismissed before your contract’s end date, check if your contract says your employer can do this.

You’ll get at least your statutory notice period if your contract says you can be dismissed. Your contract might give you more notice than this.

If your contract doesn’t say you can be dismissed your employer might owe you some of your wages from your dismissal up to your contract’s end date. You might need to make a tribunal claim for breach of contract to get the money you’re owed - contact your nearest Citizens Advice for help with this.

You won’t be owed your unpaid wages if you’re dismissed for gross misconduct. Check if your dismissal is unfair if you're accused of gross misconduct.

If you’re working beyond your contract’s end date

You’ll get at least a statutory notice period if you end up working beyond your contract’s end date. Check your contract, as it might give you more notice.

Pay in your notice period

What you’re paid in your notice period depends on whether you get statutory notice or contractual notice. If you’re entitled to both, you’ll get whichever is longer. If they’re the same length, you’ll get statutory notice pay.

If you get statutory notice

You’ll get your full pay if you work your normal hours in your statutory notice period. This should include any work benefits you get, such as pension contributions or use of a phone.

You’ll still get your full pay if you’re:

  • on holiday
  • off work because of sickness or injury  - even if you’d normally get less than your full pay
  • off work because of pregnancy, maternity leave, paternity leave, adoption leave or parental leave  - even if you’d normally get less than your full pay
  • told to stay at home because there isn’t any work for you to do - for example if you're laid off or on short-time working

You might be getting another type of pay while you’re not at work - for example statutory maternity pay or statutory sick pay. You’ll keep getting this, and your employer will top it up so you get your full pay.

You won’t be paid for any days you’re on strike in your notice period.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you’re not sure what your notice pay should be - for example if you don’t have regular hours that you work each week.

If you get contractual notice

You’ll get contractual notice if your contract gives you more than the statutory amount of notice. Usually having more notice is better for you, as you’ll be paid for longer before you leave your job. 

If you aren’t at work during contractual notice you could get less than your full pay. Instead of your full pay you’ll get what you’d normally be paid for that absence - for example statutory sick pay if you’re off sick. This is different from statutory notice, where you get your full pay even if you’re not at work. 

If your employer tells you to leave straight away

You’ll get the same notice pay if your employer wants you to stop working as soon as they dismiss you. You’ll either:

  • get all your notice pay at once and have your job end straight away - this is called pay in lieu of notice, or PILON

  • be paid as usual until the end of your notice period without having to come to work - this is 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 will 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.

Your job ends the day you're dismissed, so 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. 

You're still employed while you're on garden leave, so you can't start another job unless your employer agrees, and you can't claim benefits. Your employer can also ask you to come into work at times.  

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 left over from your first 28 days of holiday entitlement. If you get more than 28 days a year (including bank holidays), check what your contract says about leftover holiday.

If your employer tells you to use your holidays 

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.

Solving problems with your notice pay

There are steps you can take if your former employer:

  • doesn’t pay you for your notice period
  • doesn’t pay you the right amount
  • tells you to leave straight away but doesn’t give you pay in lieu of notice

These situations are called ‘wrongful dismissal’. Check how you can get your notice pay if you’re wrongfully dismissed. 

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice as soon as you can if you’ve been wrongfully dismissed and you need help getting your notice pay. Take your contract with you if you visit your nearest Citizens Advice.

If your employer is insolvent

If you're owed notice pay and your employer is insolvent, you can claim money owed on GOV.UK.

Read more about the rights of employees when an employer becomes insolvent.

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