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 pertain to your notice period. If there aren't any, your employer will expect you 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 exists for one reason: to protect both you and your employer. Without it, someone is likely to get the raw end of the deal.

Imagine if your boss didn’t give you notice before terminating your employment – you wouldn’t have time to adjust, look for a new role, or plan your next move.

Well, it works both ways. You need time to get your ducks in order, and so does your employer. 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.

For example, if you were paid £6,000 over 12 weeks, you’d divide the £6,000 between 12 – leaving you with a weekly average (£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!

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.