Leaving a job can sometimes be just as daunting as starting a new one.
But one of the most confusing things about resigning is the difficult task of handing in your notice, but luckily we’ve got a simple guide to talk you through it.
How much notice do I have to give?
Not every employer will have the same expectations, but the length of your notice period normally depends on how long you’ve been in your job and what your contract says.
If you've been employed for one month or more, the minimum notice period required by law is one week. However, it's likely your employment contract will include notice in its terms, so check whether you should be giving longer.
If your contract doesn’t state a notice period you should still be giving reasonable notice and this will depend on your seniority and how long you’ve worked there.
Ideally you should always give as much notice as possible, especially if you’ve worked for the company for several years or are in a senior position as they’ll ideally want to find a replacement before you leave. The only time you don’t need to give any notice is if you feel you’ve been forced to leave your job (also known as constructive dismissal).
The best way to hand in your notice is in the form of a letter. Check out our free templates, which can help you write the perfect resignation.
How much notice should my employer give me?
Sometimes leaving a job isn’t your choice; occasionally an employer will make that decision for you. But just because you’re being dismissed, you still have rights. Your employer must give you at least the statutory minimum period of notice. This period depends on how long you've worked there:
- Continuously employed for between one month and two years: one week
- Continuously employed for 2+ years: one week for each complete year (up to 12 weeks)
If you’re not an employee (e.g. a freelancer or contractor), or if you’re employed in a specific job (e.g. some civil servants or members of the armed forces), you might not be entitled to a minimum notice period.
Your employer can dismiss you without notice (summary dismissal) if you've committed gross misconduct. If your employer's behaviour is so unreasonable you're forced to leave then you can do so without giving notice (constructive dismissal).
If your employer doesn’t give you a notice period, they could be breaching the terms of your contract. If you believe this has happened, it’s always best to chat with your employer informally first. If this doesn’t work, follow your company’s grievance procedures or consider taking it to an employment tribunal.
The only time employers can dismiss employees without notice is in cases of gross misconduct, where they can remove you instantly from the company.
Am I entitled to normal pay during my notice period?
Yes, you’re normally entitled to your contractual pay and benefits during your notice period.
Do I have a right to be paid if I leave without notice?
No. You’re only entitled to your regular contractual pay and benefits if you follow the correct procedure. So if you leave your job informally, you’ll lose the right to be paid when you leave.
If you break the terms of your contract, your employer can even take action, especially if they suffer a financial loss because of your actions (e.g. they had to hire temp staff until they filled the role).
If you need to leave your job sooner than the notice period allows, always talk to your employer first, leaving without notice and on bad terms isn’t going to get you the most glowing reference in the future.
What is payment in lieu of notice (PILON)?
PILON is money paid to you as an alternative to working your full notice period. It might be set out as an option in your contract, or used to cover potential damages for breach of contract.
PILON should normally cover what you would have earned during your notice period: basic pay and commission, bonuses or compensation for loss of benefits (e.g. personal use of a company car or medical insurance).
What is gardening leave?
Your employer might ask you take gardening leave when you resign which means you'll have to stay away from work during your notice period.
Gardening leave is normally used to prevent an employee taking sensitive information about the company to a new job with a competitor. You still have contractual duties (e.g. confidentiality) until the end of your notice, and you can be brought back to work if needed. You’re entitled to your normal pay and any company benefits.