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.

Contractual provisions

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.[1]

The duration of a reasonable notice period depends on the particular facts of a particular case.[2] 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.[3] A reasonable period has been judged to be 12 months in some cases, but shorter in others.[4]

Notice periods in employment law

Statutory redundancy notice periods in the UK

In the United Kingdom, the statutory redundancy notice periods are:[5]

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]

Notice periods in Poland

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.[6]

Notice periods in the United States

Because most employment in the U.S. is at-will, no notice period is required. In practice, most employees provide two weeks' notice.[7]

Notice periods in Denmark

Notice periods for white collar workers are defined in the Danish Law on Salaried Employees or "Funktionærloven",[8] which are:

If the employee resigns, he/she has to give a 1-month notice period.

Notice periods in Switzerland

Notice periods in Switzerland are governed by the Code of Obligations,[9] 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.[10]


  1. ^ This section incorporates text copied from https://www.gov.uk/redundant-your-rights/notice-periods under the terms of the Open Government Licence 2.0.


  1. ^ Wikipedia Foundation, Winter Garden Theatre (London) Ltd v Millennium Productions Ltd, accessed 1 July 2023
  2. ^ Coyle, M., What is a reasonable notice period?, Lawdit Solicitors, published 16 November 2013, accessed 10 December 2022
  3. ^ Brachers, Contracts: termination and reasonable notice periods, published 16 January 2015, accessed 1 July 2023
  4. ^ Spearman, R., England and Wales High Court (Chancery Division), Bristol Groundschool Ltd v Intelligent Data Capture Ltd & Ors [2014] EWHC 2145 (Ch), delivered 2 July 2014, accessed 8 September 2023
  5. ^ GOV.UK: Redundancy - Notice periods
  6. ^ Polish Code of Labour
  7. ^ "How to Manage Employees Who Don't Give 2 Weeks' Notice - businessnewsdaily.com". Business News Daily. Retrieved 2021-10-25.
  8. ^ Dansk Funktionærlov
  9. ^ "The finer points of terminating an employment contract". Fedlex: The publication platform for federal law. Federal Council of Switzerland. 27 February 2020. Archived from the original on 31 January 2021. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  10. ^ "Bundesgesetz betreffend die Ergänzung des Schweizerischen Zivilgesetzbuches (Fünfter Teil: Obligationenrecht)". Fedlex: The publication platform for federal law (in German). Federal Council of Switzerland. 1 January 2021. Archived from the original on 31 January 2021. Retrieved 31 January 2021.