Garden Leave

Understand the benefits of instructing your employees to stay away from work.

First published on Thursday, Jun 04, 2020

Last updated on Wednesday, Mar 13, 2024

This peculiar term causes quite a lot of confusion in the business world. It throws up images of employees taking time off to tend to their lawns.

Naturally, that’s not the case. In this article, we explain exactly what it is and how it affects your business.

You can also refer to use for employment law advice regarding this issue, should you need immediate assistance.

What’s garden leave?

It’s where you instruct an employee about to leave your business to stay away from your workplace. This is while they’re earning wages from you. It’s carried out during their notice period.

The manner of their leaving doesn’t matter—whether it’s due to resignation or contract termination, you can apply garden leave.

In simplified form, that’s a basic garden leave meaning. But let’s take a closer look into what’s involved in the process.

Your gardening leave rights

If you place a member of staff on garden leave, they continue to have certain rights. However, from your side, you can stop them from entering your workplace.  

You can also block the employee from getting in contact with any of your colleagues, clients, or competitors.

To exercise your rights, you’ll need to have a garden leave clause in your employment contracts.

You can also only use it during the employee’s notice period. But it, essentially, acts as a garden leave agreement between you and your workforce.

This means the employee can either resign, or you let them know you’re dismissing them. At which point you should inform them in person—and in writing—about your decision and the reasons behind it.

But there are gardening leave employee rights you should keep in mind, too.

The main points here are that you must continue to pay them. Using this contractual option isn’t a way to dismiss staff early to save some money.

The maximum period should also be no more than six months. Before starting the process, you must also provide a reasonable cause to do so.

However, do note that on garden leave, notice periods are usually around one to three months.

As we mention above, it must also be in the employee’s contract. If you didn’t add a clause, you can’t use the process.

Why should you use it?

It you want the option in your notice period, gardening leave can then be applied at a later date—if necessary.

But what are the common reasons for doing so? Here are a few:

  • If you learn a staff member is off to a competitor, you may want to protect details about upcoming projects or other important business information.
  • It stops them from starting work with their new employer, providing you with time to strengthen your existing business relationships. That’s particularly important if they’re leaving to join a rival.
  • You can block any potential disruption if your staff member comes to work and doesn’t work to their full ability (or causes disputes).

But is putting someone on garden leave bad for your business? In principle, removing staff from work and continuing to pay them doesn’t sound like a good idea.

You should view the decision more as a way to keep your business safe.

To protect your interests, essentially.

It’s common to place senior managers or company directors on garden leave, for example, as they know so much about your operations.

But it rarely affects your employee’s prospects.

Just be sure, from your side, to ensure a proper handover takes place for the staff member’s replacement.

Garden leave and holiday pay

A regular source of confusion is with holiday days. Does the employee receive pay for these?

The answer? Yes. Under garden leave pay policies, they’ll receive the statutory amount—the same applies to any benefits they receive.

Want more advice?

Get in contact for immediate assistance with garden leave, contracts, or employee difficulties: 0800 783 2806.


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