Statutory or contractual notice period
There are two types of notice period: statutory and contractual. Statutory notice is the minimum legal notice that can be given. Employers should give the employee:
- one week's notice if the employee has been employed by the employer continuously for one month or more, but for less than two years
- two weeks' notice if the employee has been employed by the employer continuously for two years, and one additional week's notice for each further complete year of continuous employment, up to a maximum of 12 weeks. For example if an employee has worked for 5 years then they are entitled to 5 weeks' notice.
Employees must give their employer a minimum of one week's notice once they have worked for one month. This minimum is unaffected by longer service.
However, contractual notice is the amount of notice that the employer can set out in the terms and conditions of employment which can be longer than the statutory notice. For example the statutory notice an employee must give to an employer is one week, however, an employer can state within the terms of employment that an employee must give one month's notice.
Dismissal without notice
In a few cases employers may dismiss someone without notice on the grounds of gross misconduct. Gross misconduct occurs when an employee has committed a serious act such as theft, violence, physical abuse, serious breach in health and safety or gross negligence. Employers should give employees a clear indication of the type of issues that could constitute gross misconduct, and it is still important to follow a fair procedure as for any other disciplinary offence.
Fixed term contracts
Generally, no notice of the expiry of a fixed-term contract will need to be given, however, if the contract is terminated by giving notice before its expiry date then the correct amount of statutory notice should be given.
Failure by the employer to give the correct notice period may amount to a breach of contract and employees may make a claim to an employment tribunal.