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What Is Garden Leave UK and How Does It Benefit Employers?

garden leave UK

Garden leave also known as gardening leave, is a UK workplace measure that can be introduced during an employee’s notice period. There’s a lot of uncertainty around this employment clause and whether it is beneficial for both the employer and employee. 

In this article, we’ll help you to understand what the UK clause garden leave means, its benefits and when to apply it. 

What Is the Meaning of Garden Leave?

Garden leave is a workplace practice that an employer may introduce during their employees’ notice period.  During this transition period, employees who give or are given notice of employment termination, are informed to stay away from the office. This measure can be put into place whether an employee is leaving due to resignation, is being dismissed or is made redundant.

During this period of garden leave the employee must not do any of the following:  

  • Come to the office (or the work premises)
  • Carry out any work duties (from home or elsewhere) 
  • Communicate with clients or colleagues 

Although no work or attendance is required, the employee remains on the payroll and within the company throughout the entirety of the gardening leave process. 

Therefore, the employer remains responsible for:

  • Keeping the employee on the payroll and paying their normal salary
  • Providing them with existing contractual benefits such as pension schemes, gym memberships etc.

garden leave uk

When Might Your Company Use Garden Leave?

A garden leave clause aims to protect the privacy and interest of the employer. Particularly during the last few weeks of the employee’s contract. This is why in the UK, Garden Leave is most commonly applied when an employee is leaving to work for a competitor of their current employer. Thus, in order to protect the confidentiality of the company, the employer forces them to stay away. Gardening leave is usually given to more Senior Employees, those who have access to any sensitive information within the company.

There are a number of factors to take into consideration before giving an employee Garden Leave. You must consider whether this has been stated in their employment contract, the level of access that the employee has to confidential information and most importantly, the financial costs.

How long is Garden Leave?

Generally speaking, most companies assign a garden leave of up to six months to the employee. But as we mentioned, this duration depends on what is stated within the employment contract. Therefore, the length of the garden leave usually coincides with the notice period established within the employment contract.

Where does the term Gardening Leave come from?

Although employees are not allowed to work for their employers, or for another employer or themselves. They are allowed to spend time pursuing hobbies such as Gardening.

garden leave uk

What are the pros for UK companies?

There are a number of benefits that gardening leave brings to the employer.

  • Employee Availability: Ensuring that the employee in question is available to answer any queries regarding the handover
  • Prevents Poaching: Preventing the employee from stealing existing colleagues or clients
  • Protection of Data: Keeping any confidential information or data away from the employee
  • Full Handover: Preventing an employee from working for another employer or themselves until the period of notice is over

Although there are a number of benefits for UK employers, Garden leave UK can be a significantly expensive measure and procedure.

How Does Garden Leave Affect Employees?

Employees on garden leave are entitled to work rights and benefits such as statutory sick leave, maternal leave, annual leave and other workplace laws. They remain on the payroll without having to go to the office or complete any work duties. On the other hand, they are not technically able to work for another company or for themselves. Therefore, their professional abilities are limited during this time.

As an employee, you may ask yourself “Can I request Garden Leave?” The answer is yes. An employee can ask for Garden leave as part of coming to a leaving agreement. Of course, if Garden Leave is stated within the employee contract, it’s easier for the employee to ask.

garden leave uk employment contract

Is Garden Leave Legal?

To ensure compliance with UK employment laws and regulations, it’s important for the company to ensure that their Garden Leave Clause is well explained within the employment contract. It’s the responsibility of the employer to ensure that they have a full understanding of the impact that Garden Leave can have on their company. For this reason, it’s wise to seek legal advice before including it within the contract.

All in all, whether you choose to include Gardening Leave in your employment contract is entirely up to you and the needs of your company. As we mentioned, it’s not a cheap process but it can help to ensure company privacy.

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