The notice is effective as soon as it is given to you. It must clearly tell you the amount of notice you are being given and the last date of your employment (called the 'effective date of termination'). This is an important date because if you bring a tribunal claim it will be used, for example, to work out whether your claim was brought in time.
The law entitles employees to minimum periods of notice. The minimum period of notice an employer must give depends on how long you have been employed, and is:
- one week if you have worked for between one month and two years;
- one week for each year if you have worked for between two and 12 years; or
- a maximum of 12 weeks if you have 12 years’ service or more.
Your contract may entitle you to longer notice than this, in which case you will be entitled to the notice written in your contract.
Your contract may contain a written term allowing your employer to end the contract immediately by paying you the wages you would have earned if you had worked your full notice. This is called a payment in lieu of notice. Your employer must explain this clearly and in writing, and state the date of termination clearly. It is up to your employer whether to make a payment in lieu of notice instead of expecting you to work through your notice. You cannot demand this.
Your employer can end the contract immediately if you are found guilty of serious (gross) misconduct.
If you disagree with the reason for your dismissal or are concerned about the way that the dismissal was handled, you should speak with your union or seek independent legal advice. You may be able to challenge your employer in an employment tribunal.
Many tribunal cases have failed as a result of miscalculating the dismissal date and missing the deadline for bringing the claim. Take advice and never leave your claim to the last minute. Tribunal time limits are very short – normally just three months.
If you think you may be entitled to an order for interim relief (special income protection where you were dismissed for certain specified reasons, including trade union-related reasons), you must act very quickly indeed, as your claim must be issued within just seven days of dismissal. Speak to your union rep straightaway.