A notice period or period of notice within a contract may by defined within the contract itself, or subject to a condition of reasonableness. In an employment contract, a notice period is a period of time between the receipt of the letter of dismissal and the end of the last working day. This time period does not have to be given to an employee by their employer before their employment ends. The term also refers to the period between a termination date or resignation date and the last working day in the company when an employee leaves or when a contract ends.
A contract may state a period of notice which either/any party is required to give to the other contractual parties. The contract between Winter Garden Theatre (London) Ltd. and Millennium Productions Ltd., which gave rise to a 1948 legal case, stated that Millennium would have to give a month's notice if it wished to terminate, but Winter Garden's obligations were not stated. Lord MacDermott stated in that case that
The conclusion I reach is that in this contract there should be implied a stipulation to the effect that, ... the licence might be terminated by the licensors on the expiration of a reasonable notice period duly communicated to the licensees.
The duration of a reasonable notice period depends on the particular facts of a particular case. In the case of Jackson Distribution Ltd. v Tum Yeto Inc. (2009), a distribution arrangement had been established between these two companies but there was no formal written agreement. They had discussed a number of options in a series of e-mails, and draft agreements had passed between them. The High Court of England and Wales confirmed that the facts of the case and the type of contract in place would be relevant to determining the notice period applicable to terminating a contract, and that other relevant factors and any relevant trade practices could also be taken into account. A reasonable period has been judged to be 12 months in some cases, but shorter in others.
In the United Kingdom, the statutory redundancy notice periods are:
These statutory periods constitute the minimum notice period to be given by the employer; however, some employers may opt to give employees longer notice periods, in order to give the employees a better opportunity to find alternative employment.[note 1]
In Poland the same notice period applies regardless of which party (employer or employee) withdraws the contract. The statutory periods apply, unless both parties agree on other terms:
The week-measured period ends on Saturday. The month-measured period ends on the last day of calendar month—for instance, if 1-month period applies, a resignation or dismissal produced between 1st and 30 April results in contract termination on 31 May.
Because most employment in the U.S. is at-will, no notice period is required. In practice, most employees provide two weeks' notice.
Notice periods for white collar workers are defined in the Danish Law on Salaried Employees or "Funktionærloven", which are:
If the employee resigns, he/she has to give a 1-month notice period.
Notice periods in Switzerland are governed by the Code of Obligations, which sets the default time scales. The notice period depends on the employee’s length of service within the company as follows:
The default trial period is the first month of employment, but may be extended up to three months. After the trial period, the notice period may be amended by a written contract, but not under one month, unless set by a collective labor agreement and only for the first year of employment.