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Termination of an employment contract

Either an employee or employer can decide to terminate a contract of employment.

Employees may terminate their contract by resigning and an employer may terminate the contract by dismissing an employee.

Resigning from a role

An employee should make it clear that they are formally resigning. It would be best to do this in writing, giving the correct amount of notice. Employees who have at least one months service must give one week's notice unless a longer notice period is required in their contract of employment.

Where there is a longer notice period, the employee must give the contractual notice otherwise they may be in breach of their contract.

If an employee wants to leave without giving notice, or by giving a shorter notice period than required, they should approach their employer to see whether this can be agreed. An employer can choose whether or not to accept such a request.   

Dismissing an employee

Employers usually must give employees at least the notice stated in the contract of employment or the legal minimum notice period, whichever is the longer. The legal minimum notice required to dismiss is:

  • one week if the employee has been employed between one month and two years
  • one week for each complete year of employment up to a maximum of twelve weeks. For example, for two years continuous employment the notice period will be two weeks, for six years continuous employment the notice period will be six weeks.

An employer can only dismiss without notice when something has happened that it considers to amount to gross misconduct. Gross misconduct is usually an incident that is so serious that there is no way the employment can continue.

Examples of gross misconduct could include:

  • theft
  • fraud
  • violence.

An employer should always follow a fair procedure when considering any dismissal.

For more information, go to our guide on Discipline and grievances at work