Ending employment

For free and confidential legal advice about this topic, please contact us here.

It can be difficult to know all your rights and protections as you start or leave a job. It is important to understand your rights and obligations when you leave a job or when you are dismissed, including how much notice you or your employer need to provide and when you should receive your final pay. 

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I want to leave my job

How much notice do I need to give? 

If you decide to resign from your job, you may be required to provide notice of this to your employer. ‘Notice’ just means that you are letting your employer know that you are planning to leave your job so that they can find someone else. 

Whether you are required to provide notice may depend on your type of employment, full-time, part-time or casual. If you are not sure of what type of employee you are, you can have a look at our page here.  

A. Casual employees 

A casual employee is generally not required by law to provide notice of resignation to their employer. However, you may be required to give notice if you signed an employment contract or you are covered by an enterprise agreement. If you have an employment contract or are covered by an agreement, you should read it carefully to see if it says you need to provide notice. 

B. Permanent part-time/full time employees  

If you are a part-time or full-time employee, it is likely that you will have to provide a period of notice to your employer before you can resign.  

The first thing you should do is see if you are covered by an employment contract, an award or enterprise agreement. If you are, it may state that you must provide a certain period of notice to your employer.

If your employment contract requires you to give a period of notice that is unreasonably long (for example, more than 4 weeks), we strongly recommend that you contact us for advice.  

If you aren’t sure if you are covered by an award or enterprise agreement you can: 

  • ask your employer if you are covered by an enterprise agreement. There is a full list of agreements here. 
  • check whether you are covered by an award. We recommend using the tool on the Fair Work Australia website here. Scroll down to select an industry (for example, hospitality or retail) and sub-industry if there is one that applies to you.  
  • contact us for free and confidential advice here. 

If your employer withholds any pay or entitlements from your pay because you did not give the correct amount of notice, we strongly recommend that you contact us for advice, even if your employment contract says that it is okay. There are very limited circumstances where an employer is permitted to withhold your pay. For more information, you can visit our page on deducting pay and entitlements here. 

How can I provide notice? 

Your employment contract, award or enterprise agreement may specify how you are required to give notice, for example in writing or verbally. Your workplace may also have a policy that says how you should provide notice. The Fair Work Ombudsman has a useful tool to help you write a letter of resignation to provide your notice here.  

What happens once I have given notice of resignation? 

Once you have provided notice to your employer, your employer will check that the amount of notice is correct. An employer does not have the choice to accept or reject an employee’s resignation.

Usually, employers will acknowledge your resignation and then you will work as usual until the end of the notice period. Once you have completed the notice period, your employment will end. If your employer terminates your employment after you provided notice, this may be an unfair dismissal.   

My employer is ending my employment 

How much notice does my employer need to give me? 

An employer must not terminate your employment unless they have given you proper notice of the day of the termination. However, this does not apply to some employees. 

Some situations where an employer does not need to give notice to an employee include where the employee: 

  • Is a casual employee 
  • Is employed for a specific period of time or task (for example, a fixed term contract); 
  • Does seasonal work; 
  • Is fired because of serious misconduct (for example, theft, fraud or assault); 
  • Has a training arrangement and is employed for a set period of time or for the length of the training arrangement (other than an apprentice).

If your employer is required to provide notice, your employer has to provide a minimum period of notice or payment in lieu of notice.

The minimum period of notice required is summarised in this table:

Time that you have been employed  Minimum notice period  
1 year or less  1 week 
1 – 3 years  2 weeks 
3 – 5 years  3 weeks 
More than 5 years  4 weeks 


However, a longer minimum notice period may be required under an employment contract, award, enterprise agreement or other registered agreement (for example, one month instead of one week for employees who have been employed for less than a year). 

How should my employer provide notice? 

To end an employee’s employment, an employer generally has to give the employee written notice of their last day of employment.

An employer can give notice to the employee by: 

  • delivering it personally; 
  • leaving it at the employee’s last known address; or 
  • sending it by pre-paid post to the employee’s last known address.

What happens once I have received a notice of termination?  

Once an employer has provided you with a notice of termination, they can: 

  • Allow you to stay employed through your notice period, or 
  • Pay it out to you (also known as payment in lieu of notice), or 
  • Give a combination of the two. 

If your employer tells you that they want to pay you out, they must pay the full-rate of pay for the hours that you would have worked had you continued with your employment until the end of the notice period. For example, if you work 20 hours per week but your employer asks you not to work for the remaining week until you are terminated, you are still entitled to 20 hours’ worth of pay.  

If your employer pays out your notice period, your employment ends on the date that this payment is made. This means that you do not stay employed during the notice period, or continue to accrue other entitlements, such as annual leave.  

My employer terminated me immediately after I received notice or gave notice

If your employer does not pay out any part of your notice period, you remain employed for the notice period. Your employer cannot terminate you on a date earlier than the end of the notice period. If your employer does this, it may be an unfair dismissal.  

If you provide notice, and your employer terminates your employment as soon as you provide notice, this may also be an unfair dismissal.  

You can read more about unfair dismissal on our page here. If this happens to you, we strongly recommend that you contact us for advice. It is important to know that there is a time limit of 21 days for filing an unfair dismissal claim to the Fair Work Commission, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Final pay 

If an employer owes you any money when you leave. Including any accrued annual leave, they need to pay it to you. Generally, employers need to pay employees their final payment within 7 days of their employment ending.

For more information, you can visit our page on final pay here or visit the Fair Work Ombudsman page here.  

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