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Feb 16

Posted by
Laura Murphy

Notice Periods - Frequent Questions Answered

Termination of employment can be a difficult stage in any employment relationship, regardless of which party is making the decision to terminate. Notice periods can often be central to misunderstandings and disagreements. To help employers navigate these murky waters, we’ve put together answers to some frequent questions we receive:

How long should a Notice Period be?

The Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Acts 1973 to 2001, sets out minimum statutory notice periods, which are:

From the Employee to the Employer

  • Less than 13 weeks service: Nil
  • 13 weeks service or more: 1 week

From the Employer to the Employee

  • Less than 13 weeks service: Nil
  • 13 weeks to 2 years: one week
  • 2 years to 5 years: two weeks
  • 5 years to 10 years: four weeks
  • 10 years to 15 years: six weeks
  • 15+ years: 8 weeks

However, employers are free to set notice periods that are in excess of the statutory minimum, once they are agreed in the contract of employment.

Setting slightly longer notice periods can protect an employer and your business. For example, under legislation, if a long serving, key employee wishes to leave your employment they only need to give you one weeks’ notice. Could your company cope with that? Would one week be long enough to have a full and thorough handover? Would one week be long enough to find a suitable replacement for that person? Experience tells us that the answer to the above questions is more often than not, NO, one week would not be enough. Having an increased notice period gives employers the opportunity to plan for the employee’s departure. What a reasonable notice period is will depend on a number of factors including, length of service, job role, experience and custom and practice.

Does an Employee Have to Work their Notice Period?

In some situations an employer may not want the employee to work out their notice period. There are a number of options open to an employer in this scenario:

  • Pay In Lieu of Notice (PILON): it is advisable to include a PILON clause in the contract of employment as it will allow employers to pay the employee their entire notice pay in a lump sum and not have the employee return to work.
  • Garden Leave: where a garden leave clause has been included in the contract of employment, an employer can request that an individual stay away from work during their notice period, however they will remain on the company payroll and remain bound by their terms and conditions of employment for the duration of their notice period. Whilst on garden leave an employee may not work for a competitor. 
  • Serious misconduct: in cases of serious misconduct a contract may be terminated without notice due, however fair and correct disciplinary procedures must have been followed.

Does an employer have to pay an employee if they refuse to work their notice period?

If an employee fails to show up for work during their notice period the employer is not obliged to pay them.


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