Do you know what the correct notice period is?

Terminating an employee is, and should be, a last resort. As a result, it can be a stressful event for everyone involved. If you are going down this route, you need to follow the correct process as outlined on our previous blog. One aspect you can cover off to avoid future problems with a terminated employee is to make sure you are across employee notice period entitlements and observe them to the letter.

Firstly, when terminating an employee you are required to provide written notice of termination to the employee, including reference to their last day of employment. This notice can be given directly to the employee or mailed to the employee’s last known address. Two things to consider when terminating an employee are whether you let them work through the minimum notice period, or you pay them in lieu of notice. The minimum notice period applies to both long-term employees and those on probation.

However the length of minimum notice they are entitled to can vary greatly according to the conditions set out in the National Employment Standards, the award, agreement or employment contract they are on, and even other factors like their length of continuous service. If an employee over the age of 45 has worked for the company for two or more years they are entitled to an additional week of notice, unless the notice period in the award is greater than that provided in the National Employment Standards.

If you choose to pay in lieu of notice, the employee is entitled to the full amount they would have received if they had worked the notice period, including loadings, penalty rates, overtime, incentive-based payments, bonuses and monetary allowances.

You may provide the employee extra notice, although the employee may choose to only work the minimum notice required. For example if you provide 5 weeks notice, and the employee is only entitled to 4 weeks, they can choose to only work those 4 weeks.

When no notice is required – such as casual workers, seasonal workers, employees on a fixed term contract and employees fired for serious misconduct – you are still obliged to pay the employee for outstanding time worked, and annual leave if applicable.

Finding the correct notice periods can be tricky if you’re not sure where to look. As a best practice tip you should familiarise yourself with the correct awards and agreements covering your employees, and utilise them to work out the appropriate period of notice when terminating employees. Be sure to consult your employment contracts to ensure you have outlined the correct notice periods to employees.

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