Continuous employment


What is continuous employment?

Continuous employment is covered by sections 211-219 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA 1996) and is the period of time that you have worked for one employer without a break. This period of time is important because it determines the employment rights to which you are entitled. Continuous employment is calculated from your first day of work.There are some rights that you have from day one of employment and others that you accrue with time.  For example you need two years service to claim unfair dismissal and statutory redundancy pay. Compensation for your employer’s breach of your statutory rights increases with your length of service.


Calculating continuous employment

Under s210(3) ERA 1996, continuous employment is calculated on a week by week basis. In a situation where it is necessary to compute the length of your period of employment (for example, calculating whether you have two years’ service for claiming a statutory redundancy payment) it is computed in months and years of twelve months in accordance with s211 ERA 1996. A month means a calendar month, and a year means twelve calendar months.  The calculation of continuous employment in sections 210-219 ERA 1996 overrides the employment contract. It depends on when the continuous period starts and ends, as well as any break in continuity between the start and the end.


When the continuous employment starts

Under s211(1)(a) ERA 1996, the continuous period starts on the start date of your employment contract and not the first day that you attend work.


When the continuous employment ends

The date when your continuous employment ends depends on the particular right that you are trying to assert. It is the effective date of termination (EDT) for unfair dismissal, and the relevant date for redundancy.


Breaks in continuous employment

S210(5) ERA 1996 says that there is a presumption that employment is continuous and any employer who says that an employee does not have continuous service must prove it. To break your continuous employment you must have stopped work for a week or more. According to s210(4) ERA 1996, a period of less than one week does not break continuity.

The following breaks in normal employment count towards your period of continuous employment period;

  • sickness, maternity, paternity, parental or adoption leave
  • annual leave
  • temporary lay-offs
  • employment overseas with the same company – s215 ERA 1996
  • re-instatement after an unfair dismissal claim – s219 ERA 1996
  • service as a reserve in the armed forces will also not break continuity in certain circumstances – s217 ERA 1996
  • concluding a dismissal procedures agreement – s110 ERA 1996
  • the intervention of a conciliation officer from ACAS – sections 18A to 18C Employment Tribunals Act 1996 
  • employer lockouts – s216(3) ERA 1996
  • strikes – s216(1)&(2) ERA 1996
  • when a business is transferred from one employer to another (TUPE) – s218(2) ERA 1996
  • when a corporate body gets taken over by another because of a legal change – s218(3) ERA 1996
  • an individual employer has died, but his personal representatives or trustees continue to employ people – s218(4) ERA 1996
  • your employer is a partnership, and the partners change, but the partnership itself continues – s218(5) ERA 1996
  • when you move between associated employers (essentially, two companies, one of which controls the other, or both of which are controlled by a third company) – s218(6) and s231 ERA 1996
  • you work in a school and move from one school maintained by a Local Education Authority to another school which is also maintained by the same Local Education Authority – s218(7) ERA 1996
  • specific health service employees who move to other health service jobs s218(8) -(9) ERA 1996 

What to do if your employer refuses to recognise your continuous employment

You must start by raising a grievance. The Employee Rescue Guide How to write a grievance that gets you what you want takes you through the step by step process of raising a grievance with your employer.


Resources available

How to use the discrimination questions procedure

How to write a grievance about discrimination at work

How to Write a Grievance About Unauthorised Deductions from Your Wages or Salary

How to Write a Grievance That Gets You What You Want

How to Write a Grievance About Bullying and Harassment at Work

How to Write a Grievance About Changes to Your Employment Contract

How to Write a Grievance About the Behaviour of a Colleague, Manager or Supervisor

How to write a Grievance about discrimination at work


Disciplinary action and capability

Discrimination at work

Surviving a workplace suspension

Health and Safety Dismissal

How to fight dismissal on Probation

How to survive a criminal charge, conviction or caution at work

Social Media and Unfair Dismissal

Surviving a disciplinary investigation at work

Surviving Capability and Performance Management

The Disciplinary Hearing


ET1: Breach of Contract

ET1: Non-Payment of Holiday Pay on Termination

ET1: Non-Payment of Holiday Pay whilst still employed



Best of the web

GOV.UK- Continuous employment; what it is

ACAS – Casual employees and continuous employment 

HMRC – Continuous employment; breaks in employment




This resource is published by Employee Rescue Limited. Please note that the information and any commentary on the law contained herein is provided for information purposes only. The information and commentary does not, and is not intended to, amount to legal advice. Employee Rescue accepts no responsibility for any loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from action as a result of the material contained in this publication.

Further specialist advice should be taken before relying on the contents of this publication. You can send an e-mail to for such specialist advice if required.






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