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Practice dilemma: Extra pay for notice period

A long-standing member of practice staff has left the practice after 10 years, but she is demanding to be paid for a longer notice period. What should you do? Our legal expert advises.

A long-standing member of practice staff has left the practice after 10 years, but she is demanding to be paid for a longer notice period. What should you do? Our legal expert advises.

This employee is potentially right as, notwithstanding what the contract says, there is a minimum period of notice set out in legislation which must be given to terminate a contract of employment. However, whether she is actually right will depend on who terminated the contract.

Your standard contract is for either party to give each other one month's notice to terminate, but if you terminated the contract then this employee was entitled to receive 10 week's notice from you, with an extra six week's pay being due.

This is because the legislation says that an employer must give a minimum of one week's notice after an employee has one month's service, increasing to two weeks after two year's service and thereafter increasing by a week per year of service up to a maximum of 12 week's notice after 12 year's service.

A contract can be more generous than this, but where it falls short of the minimum, the legislation prevails. Your standard contract is therefore fine for anyone in their first four year's of employment but anyone with longer service may similarly challenge it.

However, if it was your employee who resigned then she has received adequate notice. An employee must give a minimum of one week's notice to terminate her contract. Your contract provides for a month, and it is fine to contract for this longer period or to subsequently mutually agree to a longer notice period after a resignation if this suits both parties.

Alison Graham is a healthcare employment lawyer at Veale Wasbrough Vizards

Alison Graham is a healthcare employment lawyer at Veale Wasbrough Vizards

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