Wonder when you can put your employees on garden leave? Or even what garden leave is? Whether it’s something you’ve encountered before or not, it’s important to know the basics in case you ever face the situation.
So, when would you use garden leave?
Typically, garden leave is possible if it’s in the employee’s contract, though it can be agreed by you as the employer and the employee during their notice period after a resignation or dismissal.
Here’s what you need to know about it.
Garden leave is an arrangement where employees stay employed and on full pay without actively working. They’re still bound by their usual obligations, like not competing against their employer, but they’re not actively doing their job. It’s called this because the idea is, instead of heading to work, an employee on garden leave might spend their day in the ‘garden’.
A well-drafted garden leave clause will highlight that the employer can request the employee to not attend the workplace unless explicitly directed otherwise.
Garden leave can be good for employers for a few reasons, as during this time it can help:
Yes, employees can request garden leave if their contract permits. However, the final say typically rests with the employer.
Garden leave typically spans the employee’s notice period. In case of disputes, courts evaluate whether the garden leave length is appropriate to protect legitimate business interests like client relationships.
While garden leave offers benefits, it does come with costs.
You’ll have to continue to pay the employee, which can strain resources if the employee isn’t contributing actively.
If you don’t want the employee in work, then a cheaper option would be to pay them in lieu of notice (if allowed by their contractual terms). This will, for example, stop them accruing holiday during their notice period.
However, the employee is then no longer employed and could, for example, start another job immediately. So it depends on whether the expense is worth it to have the employee out of action but still employed for their notice period.
The only other thing to keep in mind is that an employee can’t refuse garden leave if it’s in their contract, but if it’s not, then you won’t be able to enforce it. So it’s important to make sure your contracts are fit for purpose.
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