Dismissal - how much notice?
When an employer dismisses an employee, they have to give them notice. The notice:
- starts when the employer tells the employee that they want to end the employment
- ends on the last day of employment.
Minimum notice periods
An employer has to give the following minimum notice periods when dismissing an employee:
|Period of continuous service
||Minimum notice period
| Less than 1 year
|| 1 week
| 1-3 years
|| 2 weeks
| 3-5 years
|| 3 weeks
| over 5 years
|| 4 weeks
Minimum notice periods for employees over 45 years old
An employee has to get an extra week of notice if they’re over 45 years old and have worked for the employer for at least 2 years.
Longer minimum notice periods
An award, employment contract, enterprise agreement or other registered agreement can set out longer minimum notice periods (eg. 1 month instead of 1 week).
If you’re covered by a registered agreement, check the terms of your agreement for information. To find a registered agreement, go to the Fair Work Commission website .
Find information about longer notice periods an employer has to give in your award by selecting from the list below.
The minimum notice period an employer has to give is based on the employee’s continuous service with them. Continuous service is the length of time they are employed by the business. Service doesn’t include unpaid leave (eg. unpaid annual leave). However, an exception to this is unpaid parental leave, which does count as service towards notice of termination.
Example: Counting unpaid parental leave periods when ending employment
Freda has been employed for 5 years and 3 months. This includes a 12 month period of unpaid parental leave.
Freda’s manager needs to terminate her employment due to her position being made redundant and is trying to work out how much notice of termination to give.
Freda’s award refers to the National Employment Standards for notice of termination.
Freda’s continuous service for the purpose of notice would include the time while she was on 12 months unpaid parental leave.
Freda will be entitled to 4 weeks notice of termination given by her employer.
When an employer gives more notice than needed
An employer can provide more notice than required in the award, registered agreement or contract. The employee only has to work out the minimum notice period although they can work out the extra notice if they want to.
Taking leave during a notice period
An employee can take annual leave during a notice period if the employer agrees to the leave.
An employee can take sick leave during a notice period if they give:
- notice of the leave as soon as possible
- evidence if the employer asks for it (eg. medical certificate).
An employer can’t force an employee to take leave as part of the notice period.
No paid sick leave left
An employee who has used up all their sick leave may take unpaid sick leave. They have to give the employer notice and evidence.
Source reference: Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) section 22 and 117
Think a mistake might have been made?
If you’ve lost your job, contact the Fair Work Commission (the Commission) first if you think you were sacked because of:
- a reason that is harsh, unjust or unreasonable
- another protected right.
You have 21 days from the day you were sacked to lodge an application with the Fair Work Commission. Check the information at the Commission website to find out if you can apply for:
If you think you haven’t been paid everything you’re owed:
- read about Notice and final pay to find out what you should get
- see our Help resolving workplace issues section for practical advice on:
- talking to your employer about fixing your notice and final pay if it’s wrong
- getting help from us if you can’t resolve it.
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