Garden leave is a term used to describe a situation whereby an employee who has resigned from their employment or who has been dismissed by the employer is not required to work their notice and instead remains at home during the period of notice.
They are paid as normal and their employment does not come to an end until the notice period has expired. Therefore they are not free to undertake work for a different or new employer during the notice period.
In most cases an employer must have the contractual right to enforce a garden leave clause. The use of garden leave clauses is more common for employees who, because of their role or their status may have access to confidential information, such as trade secrets or customer details, and is often used by their employer as a way to protect that information during the employee’s notice period.