What, if any, is the minimum notice period to terminate employment?
Employment & Labour Law
Employees who have been continuously employed for one month or more are entitled to a prescribed minimum period of notice from their employer. This is one weeks’ notice if the employment is for less than two years. For two years’ employment it is two weeks’ notice, rising by one week for each additional year of employment, up to a maximum of twelve weeks’ notice. Employees are not required to give any minimum period of notice to their employers, other than that prescribed in the contract of employment.
Contractual notice periods are often longer, commonly one month for junior employees, rising to six months for senior managers and directors.
Where the reason for termination of employment is the employee’s misconduct, the employer is entitled to terminate the employment immediately without notice. If an employer fundamentally breaches the contract of employment, the employee is entitled to terminate the employment without giving notice and to claim that he has effectively been dismissed by the employer, known as constructive dismissal. A fundamental breach of the contractual obligation to maintain the relationship of trust and confidence between employer and employee which is implied into every contract of employment is often cited as the relevant breach.
Minimum statutory notice periods apply to all employees who have completed 13 weeks of continuous service with an employer. The duration of statutory notice required will depend on the length of service of the employee. Currently, the following minimum notice periods apply:
- For an employee who has worked for between 13 weeks and up to two years: one week's notice.
- For an employee who has worked for between two years and up to five years: two weeks' notice.
- For an employee who has worked for between five years and up to ten years: four weeks' notice.
- For an employee who has worked for between ten years and up to 15 years: six weeks' notice.
- For an employee who has worked for 15 years or more: eight weeks' notice.
The employment contract can provide for longer notice periods but cannot provide for periods shorter than the statutory minimum.
There are no minimum notice periods to terminate employment. Any termination by notice should be in accordance with the employment agreement.
For employees covered by the EA who enter into the employment agreement after 1 April 2016, their employment agreements must state the notice period. In the absence of agreement between the employer and EA employee, the following notice periods will apply:
|Length of employment||Notice period|
|Less than 26 weeks||1 day|
|26 weeks or more but less than 2 years||1 week|
|2 years or more but less than 5 years||2 weeks|
|5 years or more||4 weeks|
Where the EA does not apply, and in the absence of an express termination notice clause, the common law generally requires that reasonable notice be given before terminating the employment relationship. What is reasonable is determined on the facts of the case.
Due to the at-will nature of most employment relationships, either the employer or the employee may terminate the employment relationship at any time, for any reason or no reason at all, without providing notice, unless otherwise agreed. There are however limited circumstances, which trigger requirements under the federal WARN Act, previously discussed in response to Question 2, and similar state law measures.
Another federal statute, the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA) does not require pre-termination notice but imposes notice requirements in obtaining releases and waiver of age discrimination claims. Under the OWBPA (which amended the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibiting employment discrimination and retaliation against employees and applicants age 40 or older) an employee separation agreement that includes the release of an age claim will not be considered knowing and voluntary unless, at a minimum it (among other things) provides the employee at least 21 days to consider the agreement before signing and an additional 7 days to revoke the agreement.
If the termination is part of an exit incentive or other employment termination program (two or more employees), the employee must be allowed at least 45 days to consider the agreement before signing and an additional 7 days to revoke the agreement. In either case, the agreement is not effective or enforceable until after the expiration of the revocation period.
In case of redundancy dismissals, a 15 day prior notice must be complied with , although the employer may choose to replace it with payment in lieu of notice. On the other hand, no prior notice shall apply to disciplinary dismissals.
In any case, it will be advisable to check if the applicable collective bargaining agreement establishes any specific provision in this regard.
The party wishing to terminate an employment agreement with indefinite term is required to provide the other party with prior notice.
Minimum termination notice periods are set out as follows under Article 17 of the Labour Law:
|Notice Period||Duration of Employment|
|2 weeks||less than 6 months|
|4 weeks||from 6 to 18 months|
|6 weeks||from 18 to 36 months|
|8 weeks||more than 36 months|
These minimum periods may be extended contractually under individual or collective labour agreements to the benefit of the employee.
According to Colombian labor law, the following termination notices have to be given by employers:
- In fixed term employment agreements agreed for a fixed period higher than 1 month, a termination notice has to be given by the employer at least thirty days before the expiration of the fixed term agreed.
- To apply some of the just causes of termination provided in the law (i.e. retirement pension), the employer has to give 15 days’ prior notice of the termination to the employee.
According to the statutory provisions, during the probation period (ie the first month of an employment), the employment may be terminated at any time by giving seven days' notice. The parties are basically free to exclude, shorten or prolong the probation period as well as the respective notice period. The probation period cannot exceed three months, though (see art. 335b et seq. of the Swiss Code of Obligations).
According to the statutory provisions, after completion of the probation period, if any, the employment may be terminated at one month's notice during the first year of service, at two months' notice between the second and the ninth year of service and at three months' notice thereafter, all such notice to expire at the end of a calendar month. The parties are basically free to vary these notice periods. The notice period may be reduced to less than one month only by collective agreement and only for the first year of service, however (see art. 335c of the Swiss Code of Obligations).
The minimum notice period for dismissal is 30 days (Article 20, paragraph 1 of the Labour Standards Act).
The minimum statutory notice period is one actual prospective pay period for the employee concerned, but no more than 3 months’ notice needs to be given (if the actual pay period is more than 3 months). If the employment contract provides for a longer notice period, the employer would be required to comply with such notice period.
Under the LPA, advance notice of termination is not required if the employment is being terminated under any of the grounds in Section 119 of the LPA.
The notice period for termination is usually 1 month. However a longer period can also be prescribed by contract. Many employers prescribe a notice period of 2-3 months for junior level employees and up to 6 months for senior level employees.
There is no minimum notice period required to terminate employment. It is not stipulated by law and could be defined on the labor contract if the parties agree to it.
An unlimited term employment contract requires 30 days’ prior written notice to be terminated.
However, for employees paid daily, the following notice periods apply:
- One week’s notice if the employee has been employed for between six months and one year;
- Two weeks’ notice if the employee has been employed for at least one year; and
- One months’ notice if the employee has been employed for at least five years.
The employee can unilaterally terminate the employment contract by a written notice to the employer 30 days in advance, or by notice 3 days in advance during the probation period.
In relation to an employer terminating the employment contract, notice 30 days in advance or one month’s salary in lieu of notice must be given in the case of legal termination without employees’ fault (see question 1); while a notice 30 days in advance to the trade union or all employees is required in cases of mass redundancy (see question 2). Except for the period above, the employer is entitled to immediately terminate without any advance notice when the employee is at fault (see question 1).
The minimum notice period for an employee is one month. The minimum notice period for the employer is also one month, but varies depending on the length of service. The minimum notice periods required by law (for employments entered into after year 1997) are as follows:
|0-2 years of service||one months’ notice|
|2-4 years of service||two months’ notice|
|2-6 years of service||three months’ notice|
|6-8 years of service||four months’ notice|
|8-10 years of service||five months’ notice|
|ten year of service or more||six months’ notice|
Please note that an applicable collective bargaining agreements may set forth longer notice periods.
Even with just cause, an employer must give 30 days’ prior notice to dismiss an employee. This is a standard notice period that does not vary according to age or length of service. However, such prior notice requirement does not apply to: (i) an employee during a probationary period (for not more than 3 months), (ii) an employee who is hired for a seasonal job and has worked for less than 6 months, (iii) a daily employee who has not consecutively worked for at least 3 months or (iv) an employee who was hired for a definite period not exceeding 2 months.
In addition, under the LSA, the employer may terminate the employment relationship on summary notice, that is, with immediate effect if (i) a natural disaster, calamity or other unavoidable circumstances prevent the continuance of the business or (ii) the employee has intentionally caused considerable hindrance to the business or inflicted damages to the employer and such act falls under one of the causes set forth in the Enforcement Regulations of the LSA (for example, theft, embezzlement, accepting bribery, disclosing confidential information, etc.).
Fixed-term employment contracts will generally automatically terminate upon expiration of the agreed fixed term and notice is not required.
Notice periods are determined by the applicable branch collective bargaining agreement (CBA) depending on the employee’s categories and length of service. The notice period would typically amount to one or two months for blue-collar and administrative employees, and three months for employees of managerial status (“cadres”). Some CBA’s provide for shorter or longer notice periods.
Concerning the trial period, the notice depends upon the length of service and amounts to a maximum of one month.
With respect to the notice period, Sec 20 of the Salaried Employees Act states that employers must provide at least a six-week notice period before they terminate an employee’s contract. This notice period increases with seniority, such as:
- Two months after the employee’s second year of employment
- Three months after the fifth year
- Four months after the fifteenth year, and
- Five months after the twenty-fifth year of service.
Austrian law also distinguishes between white-collar and blue-collar employees. Regardless of their length of service and in absence of any other agreement, all white-collar employees must give one months’ notice by the end of the month, whereas blue-collar employees and their employers must give 14 days’ notice. If no agreement has been made stating otherwise, then the Salaried Employees Act dictates that the only permissible termination dates must fall on the last day of a calendar quarter, but also allows CBA to modify this requirement to allow termination dates to fall on the fifteenth or the last day of each month.
The U.S. concept of ‘at will employment’ does not exist in Canada. In Canada, both employment standards legislation and the common law combine to require an employer who terminates an employee without just cause to provide working notice or compensation instead of notice. No notice is required if an employee is terminated for just cause.
Under federal and provincial employment standards legislation, an employer must provide an employee with statutory notice of termination of employment or pay in lieu of notice. Unless the employee is terminated for willful misconduct, disobedience or willful neglect of duty, statutory notice is typically equal to one week per year of service to a maximum of eight weeks; however, more notice is required for group terminations in certain jurisdictions (see Question 2).
If there is a clear, enforceable agreement specifying a period of notice that complies with applicable employment standards legislation, the employee is entitled to the period of notice specified by the agreement.
If there is no enforceable agreement containing termination entitlements, the common law requires that an employer provide an employee with ‘reasonable’ notice of termination or pay in lieu of notice. It can be difficult to assess what constitutes reasonable notice because there is no set formula. The length of notice must be determined on a case-by-case basis, with reference to the applicable factors in each individual case, such as character of employment, length of service, age, and availability of similar employment.
In claims for wrongful dismissal, the courts have awarded employees notice pay of up to 24 months, and in rare circumstances more than 24 months. Typically, the more lengthy awards have been for long-service employees in very senior positions. However, some decisions have awarded significant notice periods in excess of 12 months to long service employees in relatively junior, non-managerial positions.
Like the common law, the Civil Code of Québec provides that employees are entitled to ‘reasonable’ notice of termination or an indemnity in lieu thereof. However, unlike the common law, the entitlement to ‘reasonable’ notice in Québec is a public order provision. As a result, contractual termination provisions will not be binding on Québec courts.
Employment contracts of indefinite duration started as of 1 January 2014
The following notice periods apply in the event of termination by the employer:
|Seniority (length of service)||Notice period|
|< 3 months||2 weeks|
|≥ 3 months and < 6 months||4 weeks|
|≥ 6 months and < 9 months||6 weeks|
|≥ 9 months and < 12 months||7 weeks|
|≥ 12 months and < 15 months||8 weeks|
|≥ 15 months and < 18 months||9 weeks|
|≥ 18 months and < 21 months||10 weeks|
|≥ 21 months and 24 months||11 weeks|
|≥ 2 years and < 3 years||12 weeks|
|≥ 3 years and < 4 years||13 weeks|
|≥ 4 years and < 5 years||15 weeks|
|≥ 5 years||+ 3 weeks per started year of seniority|
|≥ 20 years and < 21 years||+ 2 weeks per started year of seniority|
|≥ 21 years||+ 1 week per started year of seniority|
In specific circumstances, different notice periods may apply (e.g. when the worker reaches the statutory pension age, in case of temporary unemployment, in case of a recognition as a company in restructuring or in difficulty, etc.). Some industries may also deviate from the abovementioned notice periods (see question 9).
Employment contracts of indefinite duration started before 1 January 2014
Notice periods are expressed in months.
The calculation of the notice period or corresponding severance pay for these contracts should be conducted in three steps.
(i) First, the calculation must be made on the basis of the seniority accrued up to 31 December 2013, under the rules previously applicable in case of termination by the employer.
– For blue collar workers, the employer has to determine which notice period was applicable on 31 December 2013 (at industry or company level).
– For white collar workers, the applicable notice period depends on the worker’s gross annual remuneration (including fringe benefits) on 31 December 2013.
- For the “lower” white collar workers (≤ € 32,254), the notice period is equal to three months per started period of five years’ seniority.
- For the “higher” white collar workers (> € 32,254), the notice period is equal to one month per commenced year of seniority, with a minimum of three months.
(ii) Second, the calculation must be made on the basis of the seniority accrued for the period as of 1 January 2014, under the new rules applicable in case of termination by the employer. The seniority of the worker is therefore reduced to zero, on 1 January 2014, for the application of step (ii), and the applicable notice period is determined on the basis of the abovementioned table.
In this step (ii), the status of blue collar or white collar does not make any difference.
(iii) Third, the sum of steps (i) and (ii) constitute the (minimum) notice period applicable to the worker.
Under Italian Law the notice period – which is provided only in case of dismissal with justified reason – vary depending on the NCBA applied by the employer and on the seniority and level of the employee.
Notice by the employer must be given as follows:
|Length of service||Notice required|
|Less than 5 years||2 months|
|Between 5 and 10 years||4 months|
|More than 10 years||6 months|
Notice takes effect only on the first or the fifteenth day of the month. Notice given before the fifteenth of the month takes effect on the fifteenth; notice given after the fourteenth day takes effect on the first day of the following month. The notice pay is paid at the end of each month like the salary and after deduction of the required withholding tax and social security contributions.
The basic statutory dismissal period is four weeks to the 15th or the last day of a calendar month. This notice period increases depending on the seniority of the employee. If the parties agree to a probationary period of no longer than six months, the dismissal notice period is two weeks only.
Collective bargaining agreements sometime provide for shorter or longer notice periods.
Under Mexican legislation there is no minimum notice period to terminate an employment relationship. That is, when the employer dismisses the employee the employment termination will be effective immediately. When an employer terminates an employee under the justified causes established in article 47 of the FLL, the employer must notify the employee within 30 days of the cause or causes of the termination, or notify the Labour Board, within five days following the termination.
The length of the applicable notice period can be determined for each employee in his/her employment contract. The maximum length of a notice period is 6 months. Further, the employee's notice period may not be longer than that of the employer. If the individual employment contract or the applicable collective agreement does not include such provisions, the statutory periods of notice apply.
The statutory notice periods for the employer are fixed to the length of employment as follows:
|Length of employment||Period of notice|
|up to 1 year||2 weeks|
|1 to 4 years||1 month|
|4 to 8 years||2 months|
|8 to 12 years||4 months|
|over 12 years||6 months|
Correspondingly, fixed periods of notice applied when the employee terminates the employment contract are as follows:
|Length of employment||Period of notice|
|up to 5 years||2 weeks|
|over 5 years||1 month|