Termination of Employment

Man Being Fired With Box Of Personal StuffThere are a number of ways in which your employment can come to an end

  • through the natural end of a fixed term contract
  • resignation
  • dismissal or being sacked
  • redundancy 

This page also covers the alternatives to receiving notice from your employer, pay, holiday pay, references and claiming unemployment benefit. 


You are a permanent employee if your contract of employment does not state an end date, amongst other things.

You can formally resign from the workplace by giving a notice of resignation, in writing, that clearly states your intention, to leave to your employer. But, the notice should be given either the legal minimum time or the time mentioned in your contract before you intend to leave, whichever is longer. If you have worked for your employer for one month or more, the legal minimum notice period is one week’s notice. If you have worked for your employer for less than month, the notice period should be reasonable. 

You will still be paid as usual during the notice period, which starts the day you handed over the notice letter. But, you are not entitled to regular pay if you are involved in strike action after giving notice or did not give any notice at all. Once you have given notice in accordance with the employment contract the employer must let you go.

End of contract 

If you are a permanent employee, you are hired to work without any specific time frame for your exit from whatever particular work you are undertaking within that capacity of employment.

Your contract is a fixed term contract if it states an end date or specific duration for employment. You may also be on a fixed term contract if you are hired to cover for someone else on maternity leave or if you are employed for at least six months during the peak time. 

You are not on a fixed term contract if:

  • your contract is not with the organization whom you work for but with an employment or recruitment agency
  • you are a student on work experience placement
  • you are an apprentice
  • you are a member of the armed forces 

You are not entitled to any notice, unless you have been working for two years or over.  If you continue to work beyond the end date stated in your contract, you would still be considered as being on a fixed-term contract unless you receive a new permanent contract (see above). If you do continue to work beyond your initial fixed term contract end date, there is an "implied agreement’ between you and your employer that the end date has been altered.

Your employer does not have to renew your contract. But, they must have a fair reason for not doing so. If they do not, you can still claim unfair dismissal if you have been employed for one year before or two years after April 2012. You would still be able to claim for unfair dismissal after one year if you started before April 2012 and your finish date is after April 2012.

If you try to resign from a fixed term contract early, you may be in breach of contract. But, you will have certain rights as an employee. As long as you give your employer a week’s notice if you have worked for three months or more, then ending a fixed term contract should be similar to ending permanent employment. If your employer tries to end a fixed term contract early however, it must be stated in the employment contract that they can do this is, but they must give you one week’s notice if you have worked at least a month. If the contract does not allow them end your employment early, and they try to, they will be in breach of contract. If you suspect that your employer is in breach of contract, try to discuss it with them informally first. If this fails, you can contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau or a solicitor for advice on your rights as an employee and whether or not you should pursue an employment tribunal hearing.


Your employer can dismiss you, because:

  • you cannot do the work given to you to expected standards or complete a task within the required time
  • you are not able to do your employed work due to your continuing sickness
  • you are being made redundant
  • your continued employment would result in your employer breaking the law, for example if you were taking less than the required breaks and would not take any longer breaks
  • you did something that undermined the aims of your employer as a business, for example stealing from your workplace or being violent towards co-workers or customers.

But your employer would still have to follow certain disciplinary procedures.

In the case of the quality of your work, they should let you know that your work is not satisfactory and should give you an opportunity to improve or should give reasonable time to recover from illness. They must provide support if you have a disability to help you to do the job.  Your employer must also explain why they felt the need to dismiss you.

You should receive your normal notice period if you are dismissed, but your employer is allowed to summarily dismiss you (dismiss you immediately without notice) if the reason for dismissal is gross misconduct. Your employer’s disciplinary or grievance procedure should define what actions and/or behavior will amount to ‘gross misconduct’.

You may be able to make a claim for unfair dismissal if:

  • you think you have been sacked or made redundant without good reason
  • you feel you were forced to resign because of the behavior of other employees or managers
  • your employer has summarily dismissed you for reasons other than gross misconduct


You should still be paid as normal while you are working your notice period. This applies even if you are absent from work due to illness or holiday leave. But, if your notice period stated in your employment contract is one week more than the legal minimum you are entitled to, then your employer is not required to pay you for the whole of your notice period.

Alternatives to giving notice 

If your employer decides to end your contract with them, they may choose to put you on ‘garden leave’. This is where you are required to work your notice period at home rather than at your place of work. You will still be employed during this period and cannot start working for another employer. Alternatively, they can pay you in lieu of notice, although you are entitled by law to be paid in lieu of notice if your employer does not give you notice. You must make sure to check your employment contract to see if your employer has contracted to pay you in lieu of notice or to request that you take ‘garden leave’. 

Once notice is given, it cannot be withdrawn unless both parties agree. Therefore, if you give notice and later change your mind, your employer can still decide to retain your resignation.

Holiday Pay 

Your employer may deduct any holiday which you have taken for which you did not build up an entitlement, because you are leaving your job. If you believe that your employer has deducted too much, you should seek further advice. At the same time, if you have built up holiday entitlement that you have not taken, this should be added to your final pay. 


Your employer is not legally required to provide a reference for you when you leave or are dismissed, unless your employment contract says so or if it is needed by a regulatory body such as the Financial Conduct Authority. Employers often provide a reference as part of a settlement agreement they may choose to enter into with an employee if they have been dismissed. 

Your employer is also not legally required to show you the reference they are providing for you. If you wish to see the reference then you must write to the address that the reference was sent to.

But if your employer decides to provide a reference, they have a duty to write an accurate reference about you that is not misleading. Private and confidential information must not be included unless you have agreed.

Jobseeker's Allowance

You may need to claim Jobseeker's Allowance after you have left your job. Your entitlement will depend on the circumstances of why you are no longer employed.

If you choose to leave work, Jobcentre Plus will ask for your reason to leave and may ask your employer to comment on these reasons also. They will look into whether it was reasonable for you to leave work based on your reasons, your employer’s comments and several other facts. If Jobcentre Plus decide that you left work without good reason, you may not be able to claim Jobseeker's Allowance for between 13 and 156 weeks (3 years).

But, if your employer has dismissed you, Jobcentre Plus will ask them for their reasons. You will also be able to comment on these reasons too. Jobcentre Plus will then decide if you were dismissed due to conduct. If they decide that is the case, you may not be able to claim Jobseeker's Allowance for between 13 and 156 weeks.

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