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Two weeks notice? How to set employee notice periods

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​deverellsmith polled over 500 property personnel asking,‘How long should a permanent employee's notice period be?’

Just under two thirds of participants (60%) thought that 1 month was the right amount of time for an employee’s notice period, regardless of level and tenure within the business.

The statutory minimum notice period for an employee who has been with the business between 1 month and 2 years is 1 week; an employee who has been with the business between 2 years and 12 years is one-week for every full year served; and 12 years of employment and above is 12 weeks.

Just 7% of survey respondents thought that 1 week was a sufficient amount of time for a notice period, highlighting the consensus that employees need a longer notice period than the statutory requirement. With the impending financial changes caused by societal movement, a longer notice period would protect employees facing financial turmoil, instil trust between both parties and provide the protection or stability employees might be looking for with future employers.

Hintel (deverellsmith’s recruitment outsourcing sister company) surveyed both junior and senior property professionals as part of the 2022 Building Tomorrow together report. The average tenure for senior employees (people or project managers) was 5 years compared to junior employees who had an average tenure of 1.7 years.

Junior employees (who on average sit within the statutory 1-week notice category) are less likely to have as much savings to fall back on due to being a much newer addition to the workforce, so will be under much more pressure if the legal notice period requirement is followed.

Simon Padgett, Property Consultant at eXp UK, commented: “It totally depends on the situation. For a senior Leadership position, it should be 3 months in my view and 1 month for any other (level)!

I would also add that there are other circumstances such as conflicts of interest (garden leave) that may alter this and/or nature of departure that could necessitate a different approach perhaps.

Excluding the situation where redundancy is a consideration the employer has two options to dismiss an employee and manage the notice period depending on the circumstance:

  • Pay in lieu of notice (PILON) - the employee is paid their notice and free to leave the business.

  • Garden leave – if the employee is moving to a competitor, the employee stays on the payroll

A 6 month notice period received the lowest number of votes with just 3% of participants choosing this option.

Neil Sloam, Managing Director at St Johns Wood & Maida Vale, commented: “It very much depends why they (the employee) are leaving. There are a rare few that work to their full capacity once handing in there notice so I would say as soon as is practical for the needs of the business but a maximum period of one month is better for all.”

We’d recommend setting notice periods with each employee either at the start of their contract or throughout employment; it may need to change as staff progress throughout their career. This will be an important part of an employee’s contract of employment, if a notice period isn’t set then it will fall back on the statutory notice period as set out by the government.

When setting a notice period, HR or the people manager should consider how long it will take to find a replacement and if the employee will need to be on hand to provide training and a handover. It’s also important to note that if an employee wishes to stay longer than their notice period, they have the right to do so. You as the employer cannot make them leave earlier as this could be claimed as unfair dismissal, according to Citation.

Whatever notice period you agree on, we hope this article and our recent findings can guide your process to make the right decision for your business and employees. If you need further support on how to attract, recruit or retain talent you can drop us a message here.

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