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I've handed my notice in and it got me thinking about whether or not I can still be terminated, while working out my notice period. I've checked the various employee legislation sites as well as gov websites but none have answered my question. I should state that my situation is probably quite different from others, as I'm a software developer in charge of many projects that I've completed, and as such there is a requirement for a hand-over procedure. That being said, I'm only contracted to work 1 weeks notice. Even so, I agreed to work for two weeks in order to properly hand over all of my projects and documentation.

I'm now part way through my second week and it's become glaringly obvious that there is no more work for me to do. Which got me thinking about whether you could 'fire' me on the grounds of not working? Or, is termination out of the picture because I agreed to go "above-and-beyond" (for lack of a better term), to ensure the company wouldn't be left in the lurch?

To clarify I am in the UK.

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    As far as I know there's no reason they couldn't. But why would they, and why would it matter to you? – David K Mar 17 '15 at 17:34
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    What benefit would the company receive by firing you when you've already resigned? Even if there's no explicit work to be done, having you around to answer questions while the folks taking over your projects digest what you've handed over to them it is still valuable. – ColleenV Mar 17 '15 at 17:37
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    Quite a lot of companies ask people to stay away during their notice period. In fact there's a name for it - "Gardening leave". It's popular among employers because they don't need to keep an eye on you while you're on your way out, to stop you, say, harvesting sensitive information, picking fights with colleagues you're not intending to see again, or just ballsing up work because you're less motivated. – user568458 Mar 17 '15 at 18:31
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    @Blam 2 weeks this is the UK 4 weeks is the norm – Pepone Mar 17 '15 at 22:40
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    @LokiSinclair - given UK notice periods and your own mention of day rates I'm assuming you're a contractor, in which case they could let you go if no more work, but it's not being fired. – The Wandering Dev Manager Mar 17 '15 at 23:01
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Yes. For example if you had a fight in the office while on your notice period you could be terminated immediately. Basically if it's a gross misconduct offence. But the employer would have to apply the discipline process exactly to the book.

What they can't do is the American practice of sacking you to avoid paying notice.

And for example if you resign to get out of a discipline case as some police officers do, you can be sacked rather than being allowed to resign - though this is rather rare and applies only in certain jobs.

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I can't speak to the any law regarding this, but if your question is whether or not your company is going to bother firing you 3 days before you are scheduled to leave , the answer is "probably not." There's no reason for them to burn bridges with you if you were a good developer. If you want to leave earlier, it might not be out of the question for you to ask them if they would prefer you left a half week earlier since you are finished with your tasks - as others have mentioned, it is probably still valuable for you to be onsite to answer questions, but they may value the money more or just be OK with respecting your wishes to leave.

  • Especially for devs, etc. the notice period is more so about "tying things up" before you go. – Robert Dundon Dec 21 '16 at 20:09
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At some point one party gives notice, with a certain time, and the other party accepts it, perhaps because they have to by law. That's what you did. The other party could also give notice with a certain time, which you would have to accept if the time was within the law.

If you gave say 8 weeks notice and the company accepted, and by law the company had to give 4 weeks notice, then two weeks after your notice they could give you 4 weeks notice, so you would work for 6 weeks instead of 8 weeks.

With the numbers you gave, there is just not enough time that they could give you notice that would shorten your working time.

So can you be terminated while working your notice period? As said elsewhere, if you did something bad that allowed for immediate termination, of course. Apart from that, in principle yes, but practically it likely won't add up.

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A colleague of mine got fired for cause while serving their notice period, destroying an otherwise amicable relationship with the company.

A few years back I heard of a developer who was about to be fired because they were, frankly, incompetent (we still deal with their mess) but who happened to give notice a few weeks before their scheduled termination. The company chose to let them serve their notice, and they parted amicably, though they won't be returning any time soon.

There are costs associated with firing an employee. You have to justify it legally, and there might be severance pay the company doesn't wanna deal with. If getting you out of the way outweighs all this, there's no reason to keep someone around on their notice.

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