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Referring specifically to employment contracts in England, I've seen contracts that specify "one month of notice" to be given before termination of the contract.

This does not specify whether this means one calendar month or a specific number of days/weeks. So, in cases like this, what can be inferred in England?

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2 Answers 2

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See also the Employment Law Act 1996, which discusses statutory notice periods specifically, and in particular, s.210:

(2) In any provision of this Act which refers to a period of continuous employment expressed in months or years—

(a) a month means a calendar month

On this basis, as well as dw's answer about the Common Law, one month's notice refers to a calendar month.

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  • thank you for the concise answer and good source for future questions I might have!
    – OMGtechy
    Jun 12, 2015 at 18:36
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    This doesn't help all that much, because what's a calendar month? What date is one calendar month after January 31? February 28 (in a non-leap year), February 29 (in a leap year), March 1, March 3 (in a non-leap year) and March 2 (in a leap year) are all reasonable possibilities, but surely in a legal document where this sort of thing is important there must be some hard rule.
    – Karu
    Aug 24, 2022 at 6:46
  • @Karu one calendar month after January 31st (or 30th or 29th, for that matter) is the last day of February. Yes, the last day of February can fall anywhere from 28 days after January 31st to 31 days after January 29th. This should not be surprising. If you want the notice period to be some fixed number of days in duration regardless of when the notice is given, you should not specify it in months. Use weeks or days instead.
    – phoog
    Nov 23, 2022 at 21:33
  • Section 210 is not relevant to the interpretation of the phrase "one month of notice" in an employment contract. It defines "month" for the purpose of measuring the length of an employee's employment. Notice periods specified in this law are measured in weeks. The meaning of "month" in an employment contract is whatever the contracting parties agree it to mean. Absent such an agreement, the customary meaning in English contract law would apply.
    – phoog
    Nov 23, 2022 at 21:45
  • @phoog I contend that there is no "customary meaning" - one calendar month after January 31 is simply not well-defined. If there is consensus I haven't seen it.
    – Karu
    Nov 24, 2022 at 22:07
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English common law has centuries of experience on this issue, and has developed some settled principles that are applied by the courts.

  1. Prior to 1925, references in contracts to months were interpreted as lunar months. There are 13 lunar months in a year. By section 61 of the Law of Property Act 1925, references in contracts to months are to be interpreted as calendar months, unless the context otherwise requires.
  2. Calendar months are counted from a specified date. It is not necessary to consider the period from the 1st of a month to, say, 31st (unless the notice period starts on 1st of a month). This contrasts with the usual understanding of calendar year, which tends to be thought of as the period from 1st January to 31st December.
  3. The “corresponding date rule” requires that one looks at the same date in the diary the relevant number of months ahead. Thus a period of 3 months from 20th April expires on 20th July. In the case of Dodds v Walker [1980] 1 WLR 1061, in the Court of Appeal, Templeman LJ said:

"…if an act is authorised to be performed on any arbitrary day in any month of the year, then one month elapses on the corresponding day of the next month, provided that the day of the act itself is excluded from computation."

In the same case, in the House of Lords, Lord Diplock said:

"The corresponding date rule is simple. It is easy of application. …all that the calculator has to do is make in his diary the corresponding date in the appropriate subsequent month."

In the same case, Templeman LJ clarified that if the period expired on a date that did not exist in a particular month (eg 31st February), then the period would expire on the last day of that month.

Source

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    thank you, accepted the other answer since it cited the employment law act :)
    – OMGtechy
    Jun 12, 2015 at 18:35
  • @OMGtechy that provision of the employment law act does not have any direct bearing on the interpretation of the phrase "one month of notice" in an employment contract.
    – phoog
    Nov 23, 2022 at 21:39

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