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What’s the answer? Notice periods

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Karen Beardsley gets legal guidance this week from Helen Badger, employment law expert at Browne Jacobson and Martin Brewer, a Partner with the employment team of Mills & Reeve on the law regarding notice periods.

The question:
"Can anyone help on the law regarding notice periods? Do we have to give notice to someone who has worked for us for less than one month? Thanks."

Karen Beardsley

The answers:
Helen Badger, employment law expert, Browne Jacobson

The law in relation to notice periods is set out in the Employment Rights Act 1996. This provides that only an employee who has been employed for one month or more is entitled to notice. Between the periods of one month and two years continuous employment, the employer is required to give one weeks notice. The entitlement to notice then increases by one week for each year of continuous employment up to a maximum of 12 weeks.

However, you also need to consider the provisions of an employee's contract of employment. Any entitlement to notice that is set out in the contract that is in excess of the statutory entitlement takes precedence. Therefore if the employee's contract specifies the period of notice to be given to an employee but doesn't say that this only applies when they have been employed for one month, then you would be obliged to make whatever payments are set out in the contract. Similarly, if the provisions in the contract are more generous than the statutory provisions then the employee is entitled to the contractual notice period.

Helen can be contacted at: [email protected]

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