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Notice Periods: The Legal Requirements of Notice Pay

by bathamm / February 19, 2014

Notice Periods: The Legal Requirements of Notice PayThe issue of notice pay can be the source of confusion and legal action if it is misunderstood.

Here are a range of readers’ questions answered by our legal expert David Wright.

What is the legal position regarding notice?

In terms of giving notice, the law is clear. If you dismiss someone they must receive a minimum of one week’s notice, then one further week for each full year of service up to a maximum of 12 weeks.

Where the dismissal is for gross misconduct the dismissal is immediate following the disciplinary hearing and is without notice.

In terms of the notice the employer requires, it is entirely up to the employer and should be specified in the contract. So, for example, you could ask for as little as 24 hours notice or alternatively four or six weeks, Employers can ask for different levels of notice from different categories of employee.

When my staff tell me they are leaving I ask them to leave the salon immediately. Are there any risks with this?

Your practice is fairly common. The staff are entitled to be paid for the notice specified in your contract if you do not require them to work it. Effectively you are paying the staff NOT to work their notice. This then begs the question why you would ask for, for example, four weeks’ notice and not just one week and reduce your costs.

Can my staff have different notice periods?

Yes absolutely. It might be, for example, that you don’t see reception staff or apprentices as a risk to your business and wish to have a longer notice period. Some salons require managers to give more notice too.

Can I require staff to use their outstanding holidays in their notice period?

Yes, this is also sensible. Legally you have to give twice the length of the leave as notice. Or in simple terms you have to give staff two weeks’ notice to require them to take one week’s holiday. So if the notice period is only a week you still have time to give them four days’ notice of your requirement to use two days holiday. In reality most employees are simply happy to use their holiday and not work.

If I don’t require my staff to work their notice and I pay them for the week, what rate of pay should I give them?

Staff should receive their normal pay. This is normally their contracted hours. However if their hours fluctuate or they earn commission then the norm is to pay them the average earnings of the previous 13 weeks.

I have been given notice of redundancy but can I leave during the notice period to go to another job?

Strictly speaking no you can’t. But your job has been made redundant because it is no longer required. It would be pretty rare for an employer to argue they needed you to work all your notice especially if you had a job to go to. Of course, you then wouldn’t be paid for the outstanding notice period.

Why is the notice and termination date important?

There are several reasons:

Firstly employees need two years’ service to take a claim of unfair dismissal to Employment Tribunal. Clearly the actual date their employment ends might be vital.

Secondly employees have three months from the date of their dismissal or resignation to make a claim to Employment tribunal
It is therefore essential to get it right and ensure the duration and the last day of employment is absolutely clear.

When does an employee’s notice begin?

Normally notice begins the day after it is given. So an employee who comes into work and gives a week’s notice on a Monday would expect that notice to begin at 9 am the following day. Of course it is open to the employer and employee to agree an earlier finish

David Wright advises Habia and a range of salons across the UK. For an all-inclusive fee of £225, plus VAT, per annum you are able to contact him with all your employment queries and he will guide you through difficult staff issues.

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