Employee notice period

03 October 2019

Most workers are aware if their contract of employment ends, by law they can receive a minimum notice period. Ireland’s government enacted the Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Acts 1973 to 2005 (the Acts) to regulate area of employment law. 

The Acts set out the minimum notice periods an employee or employer must provide to the other party if they intend to terminate a contract of employment.

Employee or employer notice period?

As well as requiring employers to provide an employee notice period, Ireland’s employment laws require employees (who have completed 13 weeks’ continuous service) to provide their employers with at least one week’s notice of their intention to terminate the employment contract.

So when asking what is a notice period, it is important to be aware that the Acts provide different obligations for employees and employers.

Contractual or statutory notice periods

As well as a statutory notice period, Ireland’s employment laws permit employers to specify a contractual notice period in the contract of employment that may be longer but no shorter than the statutory minimum notice. 

Statutory minimum notice periods

The minimum notice period for termination of employment an employer must provide depends on the employee’s length of service.

The length of notice period is proportional to the employee’s length of service. The table below sets out a summary of the relevant notice periods.

Length of Service

Minimum Notice

Thirteen weeks to two years

One week

Two to five years

Two weeks

Five to ten years

Four weeks

Ten to fifteen years

Six weeks

More than fifteen years

Eight weeks


Contractual notice periods

When deciding on a contractual notice period, you need to consider the type of role the employee is working in.

While in theory there is no maximum notice period, you must have a good reason for requiring an employee to work out a long contractual notice period before terminating their contract of employment.

Any contractual notice period that is shorter than the statutory minimum will have no effect.

Payment in lieu of notice

If you don’t want an employee to work out their notice period, you can opt to pay the employee for the duration of their notice period.

There is nothing in the Acts preventing the employee from not working their notice period provided they receive payment for the relevant notice period.

Don’t forget that you may owe the employee unpaid annual leave, which needs factoring into the termination payment.

Don’t suffer avoidable claims

Minimum notice periods are a relatively straightforward area of employment law. Notice periods are proportional in duration to the employee’s length of service and you should always check the statutory minimum before terminating employment on notice. 

It can be a challenge to lose an employee, particularly if s/he is a high performer. Ensuring contractual notice periods comply with the Acts will go a long way to protecting you against minimum notice claims.

Employees leave their job for a wide range of reasons. Handling any termination of employment in a reasonable manner will help both sides end the employment relationship with as much goodwill as possible.

Still need help?

If you’re looking for assistance with your notice periods, or any other HR matters, get in contact for immediate assistance: 0818 923 923.

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