Contractual notice

The following Employment practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Contractual notice
  • Dismissing on notice
  • Where ambiguous words are used
  • Where unambiguous words are used
  • When notice starts to run
  • Dismissal during long-term incapacity
  • Entitlement to pay during sickness absence in notice period
  • Withdrawing notice of dismissal
  • Employee giving longer notice
  • Waiving contractual notice
  • More...

Contractual notice

In general, employers are free to give notice of dismissal at any time, unless they have expressly or impliedly agreed not to in the contract. There is no breach of contract as long as they allow the employee to work out their notice or (if provided in the contract) pay the employee in lieu of notice.

However, employees whose contractual rights have not been breached may also have statutory rights. For example, a dismissal may not be in breach of contract but it may still be unfair (see: Unfair dismissal—overview).

For sample notice clauses, see Precedent: Clauses—termination.

Dismissing on notice

All contracts of employment must include details of the length of notice that the employee is entitled to receive in order to terminate the contract. See Practice Note: Written statements of employment particulars—What the written statement must cover.

There are also statutory minimum rights to notice (see Practice Note: Statutory minimum notice). If the notice period in the contract is different from the statutory minimum notice period, then the employee will be entitled to whichever period of notice is the longer.

Notice of dismissal can be given orally or in writing but should be clearly communicated.

Relevant caselaw, as is to be expected, tends to focus on whether there was an actual or constructive ‘dismissal’ within the meaning of the unfair dismissal legislation, as that is a pre-requisite for an

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