What is gardening leave?


You may have heard of the term ‘gardening leave’ before but are not sure what it means or how it could apply in your school. In this article, we explain what gardening leave is, your employment rights during this period and what expectations can be set when on gardening leave.

What is gardening leave?

The GOV.UK website explains your employer may ask you not to come into work, or to work at home or another location during your notice period. This is called ‘gardening leave.’ You will get the same pay and contractual benefits.

The term itself originated from the Civil Service and came to prominence after it was used in television series Yes, Prime Minister. Essentially, it means when an employee has resigned or had their employment terminated, they are instructed not to attend the workplace or perform duties but remain on full remuneration.

So you will not be expected to come into school and teach lessons, however, you will still keep your pay and benefits until your gardening leave finishes. This means that you might not be able to start another job in your notice period unless your existing school agrees.

We have produced another article which looks at your employment rights during your notice period.

Why might my school place me on gardening leave? 

Quite often gardening leave can be used when there has been a dispute between yourself and the school.

Gardening leave can be used to keep the resigning employee away from confidential data and sensitive information. It can also be used to keep you away from staff and to prevent you from encouraging others to join you in leaving. Quite often you will be instructed not to contact anyone at your school apart from your headteacher or HR manager. 

You may be instructed that if you wish to collect any personal items or need to return any property owned by the school, you will have to do this outside of school hours. You may also be asked not to access your school email account or IT systems.

Would I still have to work my notice period?

The Citizens Advice Website explains you’ll still get the same notice pay if your employer says you don’t have to work your notice period. Not having to work your notice period could mean either:

  • You’re paid as usual until the end of your notice period, but you don’t have to come to work (this is called garden leave)
  • You get all your notice pay at once and your job ends straight away – this is called pay in lieu of notice, or PILON

If you receive garden leave your job will not end until the end of your notice period, even though you don’t have to come to work. Potentially this will increase your redundancy pay.

We have produced another article which looks at your employment rights when facing redundancy at school.

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The information contained within this article is not a complete or final statement of the law.
While Edapt has sought to ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date, it is not responsible and will not be held liable for any inaccuracies and their consequences, including any loss arising from relying on this information. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence. If you are an Edapt subscriber with an employment-related issue, please contact us and we will be able to refer you to one of our caseworkers.