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Employee experience · 

4 minutes

Cormac O'SullivanPiggy

Navigating Garden Leave: A Comprehensive Guide

It's a typical day in the corporate world when you come across this term. As idyllic as it sounds, it's a term that carries significant weight in the employment realm. So what does it entail?

This guide will walk you through the ins and outs of garden leave. We'll be shedding light on its implications, effectiveness, and whether it's the right strategy for your company.

What is Garden Leave?

Simply put, it is a transition period in which an employee stays away from the workplace during their notice period. Despite being away from their usual work environment, they continue to receive their full salary and benefits. The term 'garden leave' is a metaphorical expression indicating that the employee is free to spend their days tending to their garden during this period.

Why Does Garden Leave Happen? Scenarios

Garden leave can be initiated in various scenarios that all revolve around protecting the company's interests. Here are a few examples.

Scenario 1: Employee Resignation

An employee resigning from a key position can have a significant impact on a company. When an employee with access to proprietary and confidential information decides to leave, an employer might enforce garden leave to prevent them from sharing critical data with a new employer, especially if the new company is a direct competitor. During this time, the employee continues to receive their salary and benefits but is required to stay away from their duties and workplace.

Scenario 2: Dismissal

Dismissal, especially of a high-ranking executive or a critical role, can be a sensitive matter. The use of garden leave during such times acts as a buffer, allowing the company time to manage internal restructuring or replace the employee before the dismissed individual can engage with competitors. This approach helps the company maintain its stability and secure its trade secrets.

Scenario 3: Redundancy Process

In the event of redundancies, garden leave can be a strategic tool. It allows the company to manage the transition process while providing an appropriate space for the affected employee. It also ensures that the potential discontent or disruption is kept away from the workspace, ensuring continuity of operations.

This video goes through everything to do with garden leave and how it can and can't be used.

When is it Appropriate to Use Garden Leave?

The practice of garden leave is particularly appropriate and beneficial in certain circumstances. Here are a few of them:

Protecting Sensitive Information

For businesses where proprietary knowledge and information are critical, garden leave is a useful practice. When a key employee leaves, there's a risk of valuable information being passed to competitors. By using garden leave, employers can safeguard their data while they work on updating or changing access points and security measures.

During a Major Company Transition

Major transitions in a company, such as mergers, acquisitions, or leadership changes, often lead to job role changes or redundancies. During such periods of upheaval, garden leave can be a useful way to maintain operational stability while dealing with internal changes.

Minimizing Disruption

When a high-profile employee decides to leave, it can create a significant disruption in the company, affecting both morale and productivity. Enforcing garden leave can minimize this disruption, allowing the company time to manage the situation, find a suitable replacement, or reassign tasks appropriately.

Does Garden Leave Affect Your Organizational Culture?

The practice of garden leave could significantly impact organizational culture. On one hand, it protects the company's interests. On the other, it could potentially create a sense of insecurity among other employees, who may perceive garden leave as a punitive measure rather than a protective strategy. Thus, it's vital to manage and communicate the process transparently and tactfully.

Rights & Obligations of Employees on Garden Leave

During the period, employees retain their standard employment rights. These include the right to receive a salary, accrue holidays, and use company benefits, like the company car. However, while on this leave, employees are typically prohibited from starting a new job, sharing confidential information, or interacting with the company's clients or staff. Always ensure you seek legal advice when facing this.

Should Companies Avoid Gardening Leave?

While garden leave serves a specific purpose, whether a company should use it depends on several factors. A company must weigh the benefits, such as protecting proprietary information, against the costs, including paying the full salary and benefits of non-working employees. An employment law professional can provide guidance on whether the implementation of this type of leave is suitable for a given situation.


In conclusion, garden leave is a complex aspect of employment that requires careful navigation. Employers must consider its implications on company culture and costs, while employees should understand their rights and obligations. Through comprehensive understanding and correct implementation, it can serve as a useful tool in the world of employment transition.

Next time you hear the term, you'll know it's not all about tending roses and pansies. It's about making strategic moves to protect company interests and maintain workplace harmony during employment transitions.

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