Dull as dishwater

I’m afraid it’s a slightly less whimsical note from me today, as I need to share something with you on whether employees should work their notice period.

Yes, I agree, it’s dull as dishwater, but failure to do the right thing around notice periods can spell serious trouble.

There are three options when notice has been given on either side:

  • Work notice period and be paid as normal.
  • Put the employee on garden leave and pay them as normal. Depending on your contract wording, they may be deemed to have taken their outstanding holiday during garden leave.
  • Send the employee home, remove them from payroll, and immediately issue them with their P45 after paying them their full notice and outstanding holiday (Pay In Lieu Of Notice – PILON).


The question is: which one is the right approach?

The first thing to say is that it’s ALWAYS your decision as the employer – you don’t ask the employee what they’d like to do.

If they have resigned, we’d usually expect them to work their notice period if they’re still likely to be motivated.

However, if you do want them gone, you can choose garden leave or PILON if you want to.

If you say you want them to work their notice period, and they refuse, you do not have to pay them for it.

If you have terminated them – we’d recommend garden leave if they have a lot of holiday to use up, and they are unlikely to raise any grievances during this period.

If you have terminated them and there is a high probability of a grievance being raised, do PILON and get them off payroll ASAP.

The advantage here is that if they do raise a grievance, you don’t have to follow the full ACAS grievance guidelines as this is a “post-termination grievance”.

You’ll be able to respond in writing after investigating, with no need to have meetings with the person who raised the grievance.

What do you do before they leave for good?

Before they leave, you need to get them to do a handover – do not let them leave the building and do a handover later on, as that’s highly unlikely to happen.

How long should the notice period be?

Your contracts should specify this. We found an employee who, despite being there for 5 years, only had to give one week’s notice. Fine if you want them to leave, but inconvenient if you need a handover and to find someone else to take their place. And if there is no written contract in place, they will also have to give only one week’s notice.

You can allow them to negotiate a shorter notice period with you if that works for you, but make sure that they understand they will not be paid for the notice period if they leave early. And check your contracts for the amount of notice they have to give you.

As an employer, the minimum you can give is one week’s notice for every completed year of service.

If there’s anything that’s ringing alarm bells on notice periods, please get in touch, and we’ll do everything we can to help.

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