What is Garden Leave?

In the business world, garden leave is often used during employee transitions as a way for employers to protect their business. But what is it and why is it implemented? In this blog, we’ll delve into the intricacies of garden leave so you get a better understanding.

So What Exactly is Garden Leave?

Garden leave is where an employee who is leaving a job through having resigned, been made redundant, or dismissed, is instructed not to attend the workplace or perform any duties during their notice period. This generally means employees can stay home during work hours, but prevents them from starting new roles during this period.

During garden leave, the employee will be retained as an employer, but will be kept away from the business and shouldn’t communicate with colleagues or clients. The contract of employment continues to exist during any period of garden leave, so the employer must continue to pay the employee and provide the employee with the same contractual benefits.

Why Is It Implemented?

The purpose of garden leave is so the employer can protect their business and interests by keeping the employee away from the workplace. Garden leave is used for a range of reasons including:

  • To prevent the employee from accessing sensitive information
  • To delay the employee from starting a new role with a competitor
  • To reduce any potential disruptions or negative influence on the workplace
  • To provide time for the employer to manage a smooth transition
  • To protect key client relationships and prevent the employee from poaching clients or colleagues

Benefits for The Employer

While garden leave is often viewed from the employer’s perspective as a way to protect business interests, it also offers numerous benefits for the employee.

Continued Salary and Benefits

During garden leave, the employee is still entitled to their full pay and benefits. This financial stability can be a significant advantage, allowing them to maintain their lifestyle with more free time before transitioning to a new role.

Time to Job Search

Although it’s not possible to start a new role during garden leave, it gives the employee time to think about their next career move, leading to better job matches.

Professional Development

With more free time, the employee can use this period to update their skills, take courses, or obtain certifications to enhance their potential career options. This self-improvement time can be hugely beneficial.

Reduction in Stress

Garden leave removes the employee from their daily work responsibilities and pressures. Therefore, this time can be used as a period of rest and rejuvenation before returning to work life following the garden leave period.

Avoiding Potential Conflict

By being away from the workplace, employees can avoid any potential conflicts or uncomfortable situations that could arise following their departure, especially if they are moving to a competitor.

Are You Entitled to Garden Leave?

Figuring out your entitlement to garden leave requires a careful examination of different factors. Here are some points to consider:

  • Start by checking your employment contract or agreement. Some contracts mention provisions for garden leave and outline circumstances where it might be implemented.
  • Consider the nature of your role and whether it may influence the likelihood of garden leave. Employees in positions with access to sensitive information are more likely to be considered for garden leave.
  • Consult legal advice. If you’re uncertain about your entitlement to garden leave, seek guidance from employment law professionals who can provide clarity on your rights.


How long is garden leave?

The duration of garden leave varies depending on the terms outlined in the employment contract and notice period. Generally, garden leave is the entire length of your notice period, however, this is at the employer’s discretion.

Why is it called garden leave?

The term ‘garden leave’ is believed to be from the idea of allowing employees to tend to their gardens whilst being on leave from work. It implies the period is for leisure activities and for the employee to stay away from work.

Can you start a new job on garden leave?

During garden leave, an employee remains as an employee at the business. This means they will be unable to start a new role until the last date of service.

Can I request garden leave?

Yes, any employee can request garden leave, however, the employer has a right to refuse.

Can an employer refuse garden leave?

If an employee is placed on garden leave without a specified clause in the contract of employment, this could be seen as a breach of contract. However, most employment tribunals indicate that you don’t have an automatic right to work, just to be paid. Therefore, if an employee refuses garden leave, the employment tribunal may interpret this as the employee breaching the contract. If you want to refuse garden leave, it’s important to seek expert advice.

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