An employee must tell their employer in advance when they want to leave employment; this gives the employer a chance to prepare for the employee leaving.
An employer must tell their employee in advance when the employer is going to end the employee’s employment (unless the employer is going to dismiss the employee without notice for serious misconduct), this gives the employee a chance to find other employment.
This is called giving notice.
The notice period:
- is the amount of time between notifying that the employment relationship will be ending and the date the employment relationship actually ends
- is usually the same for employers and employees
- is usually in the employment agreement
- is usually required to be in writing.
Just because an employment agreement contains a notice period doesn’t mean that the employer can dismiss the employee for any reason as long as they give the appropriate notice. The employer must still have a good reason and must follow a fair process. This includes when the employment agreement is for a fixed term.
If there isn’t a notice period in the employment agreement
If the employment agreement doesn’t have a notice period, then fair and reasonable notice must be given. This should take into account length of service, type of job, how long it might take to replace the employee and common practice in the workplace. Depending on the role 2 to 4 weeks’ notice is often seen as fair.
Agreement not to work out an employee’s notice period
The employer can choose to agree with the employee to:
- waive all or some of their notice period if the employee asks or agrees. (This might happen if the employee is leaving for a new job and they can start right away). In this situation the employee won’t be paid for the portion of notice period they don’t work
- put the employee on garden leave.
Any agreement should be in writing and signed by the employer and the employee.