Nowadays, the idea of a job for life is pretty much dead.
People move away, switch careers, have kids. Markets shift, recessions hit, pandemics break. Circumstances change from one day to the next. And sometimes – for better or for worse – we have to part ways.
Naturally, this raises questions about the responsibilities shared between you and your employer. Questions like how do I calculate my notice period? What’s the statutory minimum? And what am I legally entitled to?
If any of these questions have crossed your mind, then stick around. We’ll do our best to fill in the blanks, so you’ll know exactly what to expect from your employer – and what your employer expects from you.
Saying your goodbyes
Let’s start from the beginning. For whatever reason, you’ve decided you want to leave your job. But before you dance (or dawdle) out the door, you’ll need to give notice to your employer – a polite heads-up that you’re moving on.
How much notice do you have to give?
This depends on how long you’ve been employed. Generally speaking, the longer your employment, the longer your notice period.
Chances are, it’s already laid out in your contract. Look for clauses that talk about ending your contract, termination, or your notice period. If you can't find any or haven't got a written contract, you'll be expected to serve the statutory minimum notice period, which is listed as follows:
- Less than 1 month – zero notice (go forth, be free!)
- 1 month to 2 years – at least one week’s notice
- 2 years to 12 years – one week’s notice for each year
- 12 years or more – capped at 12 weeks’ notice
If you’re unsure, cast your eyes over Section 86 of the Employment Rights Act 1996.
Why is the statutory minimum required?
The statutory minimum notice period is there to protect both you and your employer. Without it, someone's going to get the raw end of the deal.
Imagine if your employer could let you go without giving any notice. Imagine you'd worked there a few years and your manager pings you a message and tells you it's over 😱. It's not right, you wouldn’t have time to adjust, look for a new role, plan your next move. You'll have financial commitments, mortgage payments, people that rely on you.
Well, it works both ways. You need time to get your ducks in order, and so does your employer. They'll have projects, deadlines, customers to keep happy. They'll need to recruit or arrange someone to cover your work.
Everyone needs time to plan ahead. Everyone needs fair notice.
Getting paid during your notice period
Remember: you’re entitled to full regular pay during your notice period – even if you’re sent packing with a box of your belongings and told never to come back.
This means you’ll get your normal salary, or if your pay periodically fluctuates, a weekly average is calculated instead.
This is how you calculate the weekly average:
- If you were paid £6,000 over 12 weeks, you’d divide the £6,000 between 12 – leaving you with a weekly average of £500.
- If you’ve worked for less than 12 weeks, take the average of all the weeks you’ve worked up until that point.
- Oh, and don’t forget to include overtime, bonuses and commission!
What if you've got unused holiday allowance?
Just the same as getting paid above. You continue to earn holiday entitlement right up to the day your contract ends, and if you've got untaken holidays when you leave then you're entitlemd to be paid for them too.
Gov.uk have a good guide that covers holiday pay when you're leaving employment - you can find it here.
How does this work if you’re on furlough?
If you’re one of the millions of people in the UK relying on the government’s furlough scheme, you’ll be glad to know that the same rules still apply.
But here’s the important part: you’re entitled to 100% of your regular pay during your notice period, not the 80% rate you were paid while on furlough.