What is gardening leave?
Gardening leave is a term used in the United Kingdom for a type of leave from work that is granted to an employee, without having to use their vacation days.
During gardening leave, employees are not allowed to come into contact with any clients, colleagues or company property, or attend any company functions. Employees who are given gardening leave must typically hand in their company car and laptop and are not allowed to perform any work duties or even work as freelancers.
While on gardening leave, they are still considered to be employed by the company, so they remain on the company's payroll and enjoy contractual benefits such as pension schemes, dental care plans, gym memberships and childcare vouchers.
When should you use it?
Employees can negotiate gardening leave as part of their contract, or an employer can offer it as an incentive to stay with the company. It's usually offered to employees who have a high-level position or special skills that are difficult to replace.
Gardening leave is mainly used by employers as a way to protect their interests when an employee leaves their company. If an employee has access to sensitive information or trade secrets, the employer may want to put in place a gardening leave agreement so that the employee cannot use this information at their new job.
An employer might also choose to offer gardening leave if the employee has been accused of or is under investigation for misconduct. In these cases, it can be helpful for the employer to have some time to investigate the situation before the employee returns to work.
Additionally, gardening leave can be enforced as a way to keep the peace in the office. If there are tensions between employees, then giving someone gardening leave can help to defuse the situation.
However, employers should ensure that this type of leave is included as a term in the employment contract. If it is not, then the employer may not be able to enforce it later on.
Another aspect employers should consider before offering gardening leave is what contractual benefits the employee will continue to receive while on leave. For example, if an employee is on gardening leave, the employer might want to make sure that the employee will still receive benefits such as vacation time or sick days.
Pros of gardening leave
When an employee is offered gardening leave, there are many benefits for both the employer and the employee.
Gardening leave allows the employer to keep the employee on payroll, but restricts their ability to work for competitors, solicit clients, or poach other employees. This can be very helpful to an employer who is concerned about trade secrets, client relationships, or employee retention.
Gardening leave can also help the employer avoid any legal issues that may come up if they were to fire the employee. For the employee, gardening leave provides a transition period between leaving their current job and starting another role.
Employees still receive their full salaries and contractual benefits during their time off, which can help cushion the financial blow of leaving a job. If the employee is not able to return to work, they may be eligible for temporary disability insurance benefits while they are out on leave.
Cons of gardening leave
When an employee is offered gardening leave, it can be an expensive proposition for the employer. Not only must the employer continue to pay the employee's salary while the employee is not working, but the company may also have to provide the worker with benefits during that time. All of this can add up quickly, making gardening leave a costly option for companies.
Gardening leave can also disrupt the company's operations. If too many employees are on gardening leave, the company may not be able to function properly. This may cause a decline in productivity and impact the bottom line. If the company's operations are interrupted, it could also lead to high employee turnover, which could make it even more difficult for the company to stay afloat.
As this type of leave from work seems like a luxurious perk, other employees who are not given the opportunity to take gardening leave may feel resentful towards those who are able to. This can often lead to tension and conflict within the workplace.
Gardening leave can also be seen as a way for the company to get rid of an employee without having to fire them. It is important for employers to be aware of this, and to make sure that employees who are given gardening leave still feel like they are part of the company.
What is the length of gardening leave?
Gardening leave may be at the employer's discretion, or it may be mandated by a contract of employment. The length of gardening leave can vary depending on the employer's policy and the circumstances surrounding the employee's departure.
In some cases, employees may only be required to take a few days off, while others may be allowed to remain on gardening leave for several weeks or up to six months.