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Notice periods

This guidance sets out the obligations of employers and employees in relation to notice periods and notice pay.

Summary of notice periods in different sectors


Notice periods

Maintained schools

Give notice by:

  • 31 October to end contract on 31 December
  • 28 February to end contract by 30 April
  • 31 May to end contract by 31 August

Sixth form colleges

The same as in maintained schools


Usually the same as in maintained schools, but check your contract.

Independent schools

Notice will vary from school to school so check your contract.

Further education

Notice will vary from college to college, but is generally longer than in schools.

Check your contract.

Support staff

Usually 1 months’ notice during the first 4 years of service if you are employed in the state sector.

In the independent sector, including academies, you may be subject to statutory notice periods.

Check your contract.

What the NEU expects if the Burgundy Book does not apply:

  • Notice requirements should be in writing.
  • Employers should give employees the same amount of notice they would expect to be given.
  • Employees on probation should not be required to give more than the statutory minimum notice, which in most cases will be one week.
  • Whenever possible, notice should be given at the start of term, rather than at the end of term, so that employers and employees can make good use of times in the year when there are school/college recruitment drives.

The Burgundy Book

The Burgundy Book 2023 (National Conditions of Service for Teachers in England and Wales).

The Red Book

Teaching staff in sixth form colleges conditions of service handbook.

Notice periods and dismissal

That will depend on what your contract of employment provides. Notice periods will usually be stipulated in your statement of particulars. This is an important document which you must be provided on or before the start of your employment. If you have not received a statement of particulars by the time you are due to start work, you should chase this with your employer. If you are still having problems getting it then, let the union know, as this document could form the basis of any contractual dispute you may have with your employer in the future and is essential for asserting your employment rights.

If the Burgundy Book has been incorporated into your contract of employment, you will be entitled to a minimum of two months’ notice, and in the summer term, to a minimum of three months’ notice, terminating at the end of the relevant school term (31 August in the summer term, 30 April in the spring term and 31 December in the autumn term).

Head teachers are entitled to a minimum of three months’ notice and in the summer term, to a minimum of four months’ notice.

Because school/college staff tend to be recruited to permanent positions at specific times of the year, the union takes the view that notice should always be given at the earliest possible opportunity and as required by contract to help staff find suitable alternative employment. Employers should observe the following deadlines when giving notice:

  • to end employment at 31 December, give notice by no later than 31 October
  • to end employment at 30 April, give notice by no later than 28 February
  • to end employment at 31 August, give notice by no later than 31 May.

These deadlines also apply to staff who wish to leave their jobs and are required by their contracts to give their employer notice.

If your statement of particulars, or any other relevant contractual document, is silent on notice periods, you will be able to rely on your statutory entitlement to notice. This is a week’s notice if you have been continuously employed for more than a month, but for less than two years. If you have been continuously employed for two years or more, you will be entitled to a minimum of a week’s notice for every year of service up to a maximum of 12 weeks (i.e. three months).

Your rights to notice pay

Staff will normally be expected to work their notice period so you are likely to receive your normal pay in the usual way until your notice period expires. If the Burgundy Book provisions form part of your contract of employment, you will be paid up to and including the last day of term (as defined above), even though school holiday periods will start earlier than these dates. If the Burgundy Book provisions do not apply to you, you will need to read your contract to discover what your entitlements are.

You will not have to work your notice period to receive notice pay if your contract of employment contains an express term within it which entitles your employer to pay you in lieu of notice. If your employer does not want you on the premises during your notice period, you may either be re-deployed to another school/college for the duration of the notice period or you may be placed on what is sometimes referred to as ‘garden leave’.

In most cases, yes - you will be entitled to pursue a claim for wrongful dismissal if you are dismissed without notice pay. You should be mindful that most contracts provide that employees will not be entitled to notice pay if they are dismissed for gross misconduct.

Notice guidance for those on fixed-term contracts or TUPE transfers

Not generally, but if you have a fixed-term contract and it is terminated before its expiry date, you should receive notice and notice pay. If your contract is silent about how much notice will be given, you should receive the correct amount of statutory notice. This is one week’s notice if your contract is for a month or more, but for less than two years. If your contract is for a fixed-term of less than one month, you should receive reasonable notice.

Yes – your notice rights will transfer if your employment is transferred under TUPE (the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006).

Notice guidance when resigning

Most employers will require a reasonable amount of notice in order to find a temporary or permanent replacement. Your contract will stipulate how much notice you are required to give. If the Burgundy Book applies to you, you will be required to observe the deadlines mentioned in the FAQs, When should I be given notice of dismissal?

If your contract is silent on the point, you will be required to provide the statutory minimum notice, e.g. if you have five years of continuous service, you will be required to give five weeks’ notice.

Your contract will stipulate whether a request to resign must be made in writing, but it is generally good practice to do so in any event to avoid a later dispute about when exactly you gave notice. Unless your contract says otherwise, your resignation letter should also be addressed to your head teacher/principal rather than to your line manager, if different.

Head teachers will generally be required to address a resignation letter to the chair of governors, or to a person stipulated in the contract of employment as the person to be notified.

You are not prohibited from leaving at half-term if your employer agrees that you may do so. The Burgundy Book provisions only allow teachers to resign their posts with effect from the end of term. If you wish to leave your employment at half-term, make a request to do so in writing at the earliest possible opportunity and follow that up with a request to meet your head teacher to explain your request face-to-face.

Staff who leave their post without giving the required notice will be in breach of contract. Although contracts of employment cannot be enforced, in that employees cannot be prevented from leaving their jobs or working elsewhere, you could be sued for any costs incurred by the school/college as a result of your breach of contract and your conduct is likely to influence any future reference given by the head/principal.

If your circumstances are such that you cannot give the required notice, try to reach a mutual agreement with your school/college to release you early. The union would expect your employer to be reasonably accommodating, especially if you have given sufficient notice to the school/college to seek a replacement.

If you take maternity leave and do not wish to return to work once it ends, you will be required to give notice in accordance with the terms of your contract. It is open to the employer to waive the full notice requirements. The union expects employers to be sympathetic to the needs of individuals whose circumstances will have changed once their child is born.

Do I have to give notice if I decide not to start a job I have just been offered?

In theory, a legally binding contract is formed once there is an unconditional offer and acceptance. You will be bound by the notice provisions in your contract if you have accepted it. Even if the offer is made subject to satisfactory pre-employment checks and references, you should still seek your prospective employer’s agreement to end the appointments process. The sooner you notify them of your change of heart, the better.

External resources

Woman leaving office with box of belongings


Dismissal on grounds of redundancy is a potentially fair reason for dismissal.

Silhouette of meeting


A dismissal occurs when an employer terminates an employee’s contract of employment with or without notice.

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