Introduction to this document

Time off to look for work on redundancy letter

An employee who has been given notice of redundancy and who has two years’ continuous employment is entitled to reasonable time off work during their notice period to look for a new job or arrange training for future employment. However, pay is limited to two-fifths of one week’s pay. Use our letter to confirm an employee’s statutory rights in this situation.

Right to time off

Under s.53 Employment Rights Act 1996, an employee who is given notice of redundancy is entitled to be permitted to take reasonable time off during working hours during their notice period in order to either look for new employment or make arrangements for training for future employment. This might include, for example, time off to attend job interviews or to visit an employment agency or Jobcentre Plus in connection with new employment. Our Time Off to Look for Work on Redundancy Letter, to be given to redundant employees who are to work their notice periods, sets out this statutory right. However, the right is restricted to those employees who have a minimum of two years’ continuous employment with you, calculated as at the date of termination of their employment, and this is confirmed in our letter. Employees with shorter service don’t benefit from the statutory right, but there’s nothing to stop you exercising your discretion to extend it to them if you wish to do so.

What’s reasonable?

There’s no statutory definition of how much time off is classed as “reasonable” and therefore you’ll need to strike a balance between your business needs and the employee’s need to find a new job. Our letter doesn’t attempt to set out any view on what’s reasonable but it does provide for the employee to: (1) give their line manager advance notice of the date and time of the time off and how long they expect to be absent, (2) produce evidence of their appointment or interview (if available), or explain the precise purpose of their time off (if no evidence is available), and (3) try to arrange appointments and interviews as close to the start or end of their working day as possible. Be aware though that if the employee fails to provide evidence of their job interview or appointment, this won’t be enough of itself to deny them the time off.

Pay position

Your maximum liability to pay an employee for time off for this purpose is limited to 40%, or two-fifths, of one week’s pay during the entire notice period. For a full-time employee, that’s essentially two days’ pay, and will be pro rata for part-time employees. This should help limit how much time off employees want to take for this purpose as your obligation to pay them isn’t open-ended. The limit on pay doesn’t mean you should limit an employee’s time off to two days, but if time off beyond two days is granted, you simply don’t have to pay for it. Our letter outlines the pay position and provides for any additional pay to be at your absolute discretion. In terms of how to calculate the employee’s “appropriate hourly rate”, which is the rate you must pay them at for their period of absence, it’s the amount of one week’s pay divided by the number of their normal weekly working hours. If their number of normal working hours differs from week to week, divide one week’s pay by the average number of normal working hours calculated over a twelve-week reference period, using the twelve weeks ending with the last complete week before the day on which notice of redundancy was given.