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Garden leave: what it is and how it works

Garden leave, also known as gardening leave, is a period of time during which an employee is required to stay away from work, typically after they've resigned or been terminated. During this time, the employee remains employed by the company but is not expected to perform any work.

Alexandros Pantelakis
Alexandros Pantelakis

HR content specialist at Workable, delivering in-depth, data-driven articles to offer insights into industry and tech trends.

Have you heard about garden leave or gardening leave but aren’t quite sure what it is? Here, we’ll break down this common HR practice and discuss how it can be used in different regions around the world.

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What is garden leave?

Garden leave definition describes a designated duration wherein an employee is mandated to refrain from attending work, usually following their resignation or termination. Throughout this period, the employee maintains their employment status within the company but is not expected to carry out any work duties.

The pros and cons of garden leave

Just like any other HR policy, garden leave comes with its own set of benefits and drawbacks. Let’s take a closer look at some of the main advantages and disadvantages of garden leave.

Benefits of garden leave

One of the biggest benefits of garden leave is that it can help companies protect their interests. By requiring employees to stay away from work for a period of time, companies can keep them from working with competitors or taking sensitive information with them.

Garden leave can also be used to ease the transition of an employee leaving the company, allowing them time to wrap up their work and prepare for their next role.

Disadvantages of garden leave

While garden leave can be an effective tool for companies, it also has some potential drawbacks.

For example, garden leave can be costly for companies, as they are required to continue paying the employee during their garden leave period.

Additionally, employees may feel frustrated or undervalued by being kept away from work, and may even decide to challenge the practice in court if they feel that it’s unfair.

Garden leave around the world

The concept of garden leave originated in the UK. However, the practice is not confined to the UK. It’s prevalent in many countries, albeit with varying regulations and norms.

For instance, garden leave in the US is less common due to different employment laws and practices. Garden leave in Australia is often seen in the financial sector, while in Singapore, it’s a standard clause in employment contracts especially for senior roles.

For more information on garden leave, you can refer to these resources:

The difference between garden leave and a non-compete clause

While garden leave and non-compete clauses are similar in that they both aim to prevent employees from working with competitors, there are some key differences.

Non-compete clauses are contractual agreements that prohibit an employee from working in a certain industry or role for a specified period of time after leaving their current employer. There may be legal restrictions to non-compete clauses – double-check with your local authorities to verify.

Garden leave, on the other hand, is not a contractual agreement, but rather a period of time during which the employee is required to stay away from work.

Garden leave period

The length of a garden leave period can vary depending on the company and the circumstances.

It can range from a few weeks to several months, and in some extreme cases, even up to a year or more.

Is garden leave legal?

Yes, garden leave is legal in most countries and is becoming increasingly common in many industries. However, there are certain legal requirements that companies must adhere to when implementing garden leave policies, such as providing adequate notice and continuing to pay the employee during the garden leave period.

Can an employee work elsewhere during garden leave?

The employee is technically still employed by the company during their garden leave period, so they are typically not allowed to work for another employer during that time. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, such as if the employee finds temporary work that does not conflict with their existing employment agreement.

How to manage garden leave with HRIS

By creating a healthy work environment and providing a great employee experience, from onboarding to talent retention, you can avoid managing garden leave situations and focus more on boosting productivity and achieving your higher corporate goals.

You can start today by using an HRIS software to accomplish this. Explore how Workable can help you.

While garden leave may not be right for every company or situation, it can be an effective way to protect company interests and ease the transition of an employee leaving the organization. With the right tools and resources in place, managing garden leave policies can be streamlined and stress-free.

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