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26/09/2006

I am handing in my notice

How much notice is an employee obliged to give the employer when leaving a job?

You’re quitting your job and therefore must hand in your notice but you’re not sure how much notice you have to give your employer. Under legislation, an employer is entitled to at least one week's notice of termination from an employee who has been employed for 13 weeks or more and who proposes to give up his/her job.

The Contract Of Employment addresses the notice required to be given by the employee in the event of leaving employment. The employer and the employee can, of course, agree to longer notice being given by the employee.

The minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Act, 1973 to 1991, lays down the minimum period of notice which must be given by employers and employees on termination of employment. A minimum notice of 1 week after 13 weeks of service and up to 8 weeks after 15 years of service is required.

The following are the minimum periods of notice to be given by an employer to an employee based on the employee's length of continuous service.

Period of Continuous Service/Notice Required
13 weeks - 2 years service - 1 week notice
2 years - 5 years service - 2 weeks notice
5 years - 10 years service - 4 weeks notice
10 years - 15 years service - 6 weeks notice
15 years and over service  -  8 weeks notice

At common law, there is an implied term in every contract of employment that it must be terminated by notice, unless there are grounds justifying a summary termination – for example, gross misconduct.

If a contract does not specify a notice period then a reasonable period of notice must be given. What is reasonable depends on the circumstances of the case and may, particularly in the case of senior executives, be longer than the minimum notice provided by the statute.

Notice entitlements under the contract of employment may exceed the minimum periods stipulated in this Act but any provision in a contract of employment for shorter periods of notice than the statutory minimum periods has no effect. The Act does not, however, prevent an employer or employee from waiving their right to notice or accepting payment in lieu of notice.

The Contract of Employment should provide that the employer may pay the employee in lieu of the minimum notice entitlement. It may also provide for the giving of longer than the minimum notice required by legislation. The act does not affect the right to terminate an employment contract without notice because of gross misconduct or inefficiency.

It is important to note that, under statute, an employee is only obliged to give an employer one weeks notice of his intention to terminate his contract of employment, irrespective of his length of service. Again, however, the principle of reasonable notice will apply.

Disputes about such matters as the right to notice, length of notice and calculation of continuous service may be referred to the Employment Appeals Tribunal. You can view the explanatory leaflet for employer and employees Minimum Notice And Terms Of Employment Acts, 1973 To 1991 on the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment website at www.entemp.ie/erir/mnte.htm.

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