This guides looks briefly at what a payment in lieu of notice (or ‘PILON’) is, how you can get one in your settlement agreement and the tax implications.
What is PILON or payment in lieu of notice?
If you get a payment in lieu of notice it means that your employer pays your salary, and perhaps also benefits, for your notice period, but you do not have to work during that time.
Payment in lieu of notice is also known as PILON for short. Sometimes it’s also referred to as wages in lieu of notice. ‘In lieu’ means ‘in place of” or ‘instead of” in French, so you receive notice pay instead of working your notice period.
For example, if an employee has a three month notice period, the employer might decide that they want today to be the last day of your employment – but they will be paying your wages in lieu of this notice for three months, even though you are not physically coming in to work any more.
Can I get a payment in lieu of notice in my settlement agreement?
It is very common to find PILON in settlement agreements. This is because such agreements tend to occur after either a dispute or a redundancy and there is some reason why your employer prefers not to continue to interact with you on a day to day basis. Therefore they often do not want you to be in the office once the relationship has broken down.
This is slightly different from being put on garden leave which means that you are told not to work, but are also not permitted to take another job with a competitor for a certain length of time. With garden leave, you would normally be paid at the end of each month as usual, and you still remain technically employed, so theoretically your employer could call on you to do more work.
However, when you are given a payment in lieu of notice, you do not remain employed.
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‘In lieu’ means ‘instead of’ in French, so you receive notice pay but don’t actually work your notice period;
Payment in lieu of notice – or PILON – is very common when an employee leaves after redundancy or a dispute
Notice pay is not tax-free but it is open to the parties to vary the notice period.
How can I get a payment in lieu of notice?
To work out the statutory minimum notice period that you are entitled to, figure out the amount of time worked continuously for your employer. If you have worked for one month or more, your notice period must be at least a week. If it’s between one month and 2 years, you are entitled to one week’s notice.
For anything above 2 years’ service, you are entitled to one week per year worked, up to a maximum of 12 weeks for 12 years or more of continuous employment. So if you have worked for seven and a half years, you are entitled to 7 weeks’ notice.
If you have been employed for 12 years or more, you would legally be entitled to 12 weeks. This minimum applies no matter what your contract says.
Payment in lieu of notice is available from many companies if there has been some kind of dispute or disagreement at work. This is because, in such circumstances, employers actually prefer to see the back of you rather than risk you carrying on and having an adverse effect on your colleagues.
So it can be just a case of asking your employer to pay you in lieu of notice – you may not need to negotiate this at all. Of course, if your employer offers you payment in lieu of notice then try not to smile too much, and just make out that you expected this as standard; then continue to negotiate the ‘ex gratia‘ element of the deal.
Is PILON taxable?
All payments in lieu of notice have been subject to income tax and national insurance contributions since 2018.
Employers have to factor into their PILON calculations the basic pay that an employee would have received if they had worked their notice in full. This basic pay is regarded as normal earnings and that is why it’s liable to income tax and Class 1 national insurance contributions, irrespective of any clause in the employee’s contract.
Is PILON pensionable?
Pensionable pay is the pay that you usually pay pension contributions on, such as your salary, bonuses or overtime. However, you do not have to pay pension contributions on a one-off payment such as a payment in lieu of notice.
If you want more detail about how to determine the tax on PILON, the HMRC website has further resources on the subject. You might also like to read our guide on the Tax implications of settlement agreements.
Alternatively, if you want help with any aspect of your settlement agreement – including PILON – get in touch with Monaco Solicitors, specialist employment law solicitors, to explore the variety of services we have available to support employees like you.
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