A question I am asked regularly is “how much notice am I entitled to?”, and “how much notice to I have to give?”
There is two aspects to this: statute and contract.
Let me explain.
The primary piece of legislation in Ireland dealing with notice periods is the Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Act, 1973.
The sections (9 and 10) which deal with giving a written statement of terms of employment have been superseded by the Terms of Employment (Information) Act, 1994.
Section 3 of the act sets out who the act does not apply to, including employees who work less than 18 hours per week and relations of the employer.
Minimum Statutory Periods of Notice
Section 4 of the Act sets out the minimum periods of notice of termination of employment as follows:
(2) The minimum notice to be given by an employer to terminate the contract of employment of his employee shall be—
(a) if the employee has been in the continuous service of his employer for less than two years, one week,
(b) if the employee has been in the continuous service of his employer for two years or more, but less than five years, two weeks,
(c) if the employee has been in the continuous service of his employer for five years or more, but less than ten years, four weeks,
(d) if the employee has been in the continuous service of his employer for ten years or more, but less than fifteen years, six weeks,
(e) if the employee has been in the continuous service of his employer for fifteen years or more, eight weeks.
Section 5 sets out the employee’s rights during the notice period, the main one of which is the right to be paid in accordance with his contract of employment, even if the employer gives him no hours or has no work for him.
Section 6 sets out the employer’s right to notice from the employee:
6.—An employer shall, subject to the right of an employee to give counter-notice under section 10 of the Act of 1967 or to give notice of intention to claim redundancy payment in respect of lay-off or short-time under section 12 of that Act, be entitled to not less than one week’s notice from an employee who has been in his continuous employment for thirteen weeks or more of that employee’s intention to terminate his contract of employment.
Section 7 provides the right for both employer and employee to waive the notice period, with the employee accepting pay in lieu of the notice period.
Section 8 provides that there is no obligation to give notice in situations of misconduct, but I would caution employers against relying on this section too often, or at all.
Section 11 provides for complaints by employees to be made for breaches of the act. These complaints are now dealt with by the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court on appeal.
The WRC adjudicator can order the employer to pay compensation for the loss sustained by the breach of the act.
The first schedule of the act sets out how the employee’s continuous service is to be computed.
Contractual Notice Period
Remember that the above notice periods are minimum statutory notice periods; if the contract provides for a greater period of notice then this must be complied with or a breach of contract case will be open to the employee.
The employer, too, can theoretically sue the employee for breach of contract if he/she does not give the contractual period of notice.
It is not a course of action that is likely to be frequently taken.