Garden or gardening leave is a practice used by employers as a way of protecting the organisation. It’s mainly used when key employees are leaving their jobs, whether by resigning or after their employment is terminated.
When placed on gardening leave, the employee remains on the payroll but is restricted from accessing their workplace.
This practise is meant to ensure that the departure of key employees will have little to no impact on the organisation’s reputation and ongoing success.
When on gardening leave, an employer may require the employee to meet certain conditions. The employer may ask the employee:
Despite all the above, the individual is still to be considered as an employee of the company and will, therefore, continue receiving full remuneration.
While the individual is not allowed to work for a different employer, they should still be available for the employer from whose company they are exiting.
The main benefit that an employer gets from a garden leave is the ability to protect their businesses.
Placing a key employee on gardening leave prevents them from utilising the up-to-date information that they'll leave with. The employee can, therefore, not start a business of their own out of enmity nor work for a competitor.
A garden leave ensures that the employee remains out of the company for a specified period. Once the period is over, the information that was being protected should have become less sensitive or even worthless, allowing the employee to start their own business or work with a competitor.
If a departing employee is causing others in the company distress, then a period of gardening leave can also be beneficial to maintain a happy and healthy workplace.
There are a few drawbacks that may affect an employer in the event that they have placed an employee on garden leave:
Directing an employee to take a gardening leave can be a reasonable decision if the benefits of such a decision outweigh the associated costs.
Before placing an employee on garden leave, however, it’s highly advisable that you have a detailed contract clause in place.
The contract clause should be tailored to your company or business and its unique requirements. That way, the owner of a business is able to avoid a breach of contract claim from the employee placed on gardening leave.
As if that’s not enough, contract clauses make it clear to both parties what the garden leave will mean, and what each one of them should do in such circumstances.
Bearing in mind that the process of placing employees on garden leave is not straightforward, employers are recommended to seek legal advice in case of uncertainties, to avoid legal issues that may arise from not following the right procedures.