Garden Leave in the UK - A Guide for Employees

If you’ve handed in your notice and your employer has put you on garden leave, you may have questions – Our team of employment law specialists can answer your questions, ensure your rights aren’t being breached and advise how you can proceed

Read our guide on garden leave below

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What is Garden Leave in the UK? 

Garden leave in the UK is a legal mechanism sometimes used by employers when an employee hands in their notice. In such circumstances, the employer would ask the employee to remain home during their notice period 

The employee would be prevented from attending the workplace, performing their regular duties and contacting colleagues or clients. Despite this, they would still receive their full pay and benefits entitlement. They would also remain bound by their contract of employment and could be asked to perform alternative work. 

An employer may take such measures to reduce any risk brought about by the employee’s departure. This includes the loss of clients, suppliers, trade secrets, and other sensitive information. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Garden Leave 

As mentioned, garden leave enables employers to protect sensitive information and relationships with clients. It also helps to stop the departing employee from influencing their colleagues to move jobs. Additionally, it provides a cushion period to find a replacement and keeps the departing employee available for queries during training. 

From an employee’s perspective, garden leave in the UK ensures they receive full pay and entitled benefits. It could also give them more free time to job hunt, enjoy hobbies or spend time with their family. 

However, such leave doesn’t come without any potential disadvantages. For starters, employers would still have to provide the employee with full pay despite them not working their regular duties.  

What’s more, there’s nothing to say the employee wouldn’t have already taken measures in anticipation of them coming into effect. This could include removing sensitive documentation from the workplace, rendering the leave ineffective. 

Employees may lose out on suitable job opportunities since the period of leave is likely to be a few weeks, or even a few months.  

How is Garden Leave in the UK Implemented? 

Garden leave in the UK is put into effect through an employee’s contract of employment. In such circumstances, employers would include a specific clause enabling them to put the employee on garden leave when applicable. The clause would outline each party’s rights and obligations and any conditions concerning the period. 

What if I Don’t Have Such a Clause? 

Should an employee not have a garden leave clause in their contract, their employer cannot enforce such leave. Supposing they prevented the employee from working their notice, this would amount to a breach of contract. Here, the employee may be entitled to terminate their employment and make a claim to an employment tribunal. 

How Long Will I Be Put on Garden Leave in the UK? 

Garden leave typically runs the length of an employee’s notice period. As such, the time will vary depending on what this is. It could be a few weeks, but it could be as long as a couple of months. 

Can I Start Working for Another Employer? 

One reason employers may implement garden leave in the UK is because it prevents employees from working for another employer. This is because the employee is still bound by their contract of employment during this time. Therefore, if an employee is placed on garden leave, they cannot work for another employer until this concludes. 

Am I Entitled to My Salary and Benefits During This Period? 

As mentioned, garden leave entitles employees to full pay and employment benefits. That’s because, just like employees, employers are still bound to the contract of employment during the period. 

I Have Been Placed on Garden Leave – What Do I Do? 

If an employee is on garden leave in the UK, it’s advisable first to read their contract of employment. This is because it enables them to understand their rights and obligations during the period to avoid a contract breach. 

Then, if the individual doesn’t already have another job lined up, they could use their free time to job hunt. However, if they do, they could instead use this time to strengthen their CV. This could be done by learning a new skill or undertaking an online training course. 

Furthermore, if the individual has considered working for themselves or starting a business, this could be the opportune time. They’d have more free time to plan and would be receiving their current salary to feel financially secure during preparations. 

Yet, this could also be a time to unwind and relax. In the current, fast-paced working world, it’s common for individuals to come under substantial pressure and feel stressed. Therefore, it may be wise to simply pause and recharge before taking on a new challenge. 

Regardless of what an individual decides to do during this time, options exist. Employees should embrace the moment if it comes along as if used effectively, it could be a beneficial period for them. 

Garden Leave vs Restrictive Covenants 

Employers will implement restrictive covenants in an employment contract to prevent employees from doing things post-employment. This differs from garden leave in the UK, which provides restrictions during an employee’s notice period.  

Restrictive covenants could prevent an employee from working for a competitor or poaching clients for a set period. Furthermore, should the covenant be reasonable and serve a legitimate business interest, it will likely be enforceable. 

We hope our guide has answered your questions about garden leave in the UK. Should you have any further questions or want legal advice, contact Redmans Solicitors today. We are employment law specialists with years of experience and can provide advice on a variety of cases. 

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