Dismissal and notice

When an employer dismisses an employee, they have to give them notice.

Minimum notice periods

The notice period:

  • starts the day after the employer tells the employee that they want to end the employment
  • ends on the last day of employment.

An employer has to give the following minimum notice periods when dismissing an employee:

Period of continuous service Minimum notice period 
 1 year or less 1 week
 More than 1 year - 3 years 2 weeks
 More than 3 years - 5 years 3 weeks
 More than 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.

For information about paying out notice periods, see Notice and final pay.

Longer minimum notice periods

An award, employment contract, enterprise agreement or other registered agreement can set out longer minimum notice periods (for example, 1 month instead of 1 week).

If you’re covered by an enterprise agreement, check the terms of your agreement for information. To find an enterprise agreement, go to the Fair Work Commission website.

Use our Notice and Redundancy Calculator to find information about longer notice periods an employer has to give or select your award from the list below.

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An employment contract can't provide for less than the legal minimum set out in awards and agreements. Visit Employment contracts to find out where to get advice about any other terms and conditions in the contract.

Ending the notice period early

If an employee has been dismissed and wants to leave during the notice period, the employer can agree to reduce the employee's notice period.

If an employer doesn't agree to reduce the notice period, the employee can choose to resign and give their own minimum notice. Any time the employee has already worked during the original notice period doesn't count.

See Resignation and notice for information about how much notice an employee needs to give.

If an employee doesn’t have to give notice under their award, registered agreement or employment contract, they can finish straight away.

Continuous service

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 includes authorised unpaid leave (for example, unpaid parental leave). Service will not include any periods of unauthorised leave or absences.

Read about whether casual service counts for notice in our Library.

Example: Counting unpaid parental leave periods when ending employment

Joan has been employed for 5 years and 3 months. This includes a 12 month period of unpaid parental leave.

Joan'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.

Joan's award refers to the National Employment Standards for notice of termination.

Joan's continuous service for the purpose of notice would include the time while she was on 12 months unpaid parental leave.

Joan will be entitled to 4 weeks notice of termination given by her employer.

If an employer gives more notice than needed

If an employer provides more notice than required in the award, registered agreement or contract, the employee only has to work out the minimum notice period. They can work out the extra notice if they want to. If the employee only works the minimum notice period, the employer doesn't have to pay the extra notice period.

Taking leave during a notice period

An employee can take annual leave during a notice period if the employer agrees to the leave. An employer can't force an employee to take leave as part of the notice period.

Notice can include public holidays. They don't extend the notice period.

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 (for example, medical certificate).

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 s.22 and 117.

Tools and resources

Related information

Have a workplace problem?

Problems can happen in any workplace. If you have a workplace problem, we have tools and information to help you resolve it.

For employees:

If you’ve lost your job, contact the Fair Work Commission (the Commission) first if you think you were sacked because of:

  • discrimination
  • a reason that is harsh, unjust or unreasonable
  • another protected right.

You have 21 days starting from the day after you were dismissed 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 Fixing a workplace problem 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.

For employers:

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