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Published April 24, 2017 (last updated on May 15, 2024) | Adam Wyatt - Copywriter and Content Creator

There are a number of ways in which an employer can end the employment relationship, such as redundancy or termination. However, the employee can also end their employment through resignation.

An employee can resign at any time, normally beginning the resignation process by declaring their intention to stop work with a resignation letter.

From the perspective of an employer, there are many other formal steps which must be followed. Once you have received notice from an employee that they wish to resign, you should:

• Confirm the notice period in the employment agreement
• Formally accept the resignation
• Use the employment agreement and any legal guidance to calculate the final pay of the employee
• Ensure any company property is returned by the employee

It is important to remember that there may be provisions in the employment agreement which can guide the resignation process of your employee. For example, many employment agreements will make it clear that notice is to be in writing and that there is a specific period of notice required. Whether it is outlined or not, common advice is a letter of resignation is the best way to avoid any misunderstandings and should be encouraged from employees wishing to resign.

Notice period

After an employee submits a resignation letter, the first step for any employer is to check how much notice is laid out in their employer agreement. This should match how much notice the employee is offering before their intended leave date.

If the employee has an employment agreement that requires four weeks’ notice, but they only provide 2 weeks’ notice before leaving, their final pay could be deducted.

It is possible that an employer and employee can agree that the employee does not have to work out their full notice period, with the unworked time being deducted from their final pay.

Agreement not to work a notice period

In some cases, the employer and employee may agree to:

  • Waive all or some of their notice period. This might happen if the employee is leaving for a new job and needs to start working soon. In this situation, the employee will not be paid for the portion of notice period they do not work.

  • Put the employee on garden leave.

Any agreements should be written in a formal document and signed by the employer and employee.

Resignation letter template

Since there is nothing to stop them from leaving after they have worked their notice period, accepting an employee’s resignation is not a formal process. However, it is always advisable to get a letter of resignation. This remains the case even if an employee has already resigned verbally.

Here is a resignation letter example, similar to what you might receive from an employee:

Please accept this letter as formal notification of my resignation from (company name). My last day of employment will be (effective date). Before my last day I will make sure that all my current projects are as complete as possible, and I am happy to assist my other team members to ensure a smooth transition of my responsibilities.

Unintended resignation and cooling-off period

In some circumstances, such as a heated discussion or argument, an employee can tell their manager that they quit, which many employers can easily interpret as a formal resignation. In these situations, it is important to be clear about whether the employee has actually resigned.

Employers are advised to allow at least 24 hours for the employee to cool off before attempting to confirm in a professional manner whether the verbal resignation was genuine or not.

With the employee in a clearer frame of mind, they can withdraw their resignation or simply reiterate their formal notice of resignation. If your employee does restate their intention to resign, this is a perfect opportunity to request a resignation letter to confirm the matter in writing.

Incorrectly assuming an employee has resigned without confirming this via a formal resignation letter can be an expensive mistake, potentially leading to a claim of constructive dismissal.

Resignation withdrawal

There are some cases of employees submitting resignation letters and later withdrawing their requests. Employers have to decide whether to allow the resignation to be withdrawn and let the employee continue working as normal. Alternatively, they can refuse the withdrawal and proceed with the resignation.

Regardless of which choice is made by an employer, the outcome should be communicated in writing to ensure complete clarity.

The last day of an employee’s notice period

As well as collecting any company property from the employee, many employers will decide to conduct an exit interview. This helps the employer collect valuable information about how the company can be improved so they can increase staff retention.

Exit interviews should not be carried out by the employee’s immediate manager or supervisor, since this means the employee may be reluctant to raise issues related to their team and seniors.

You may collect more honest answers if the employee’s anonymity is protected.

The exit interview can ask questions related to the following:

  • Reason for resignation

  • Relationship with supervisors and workmates

  • Satisfaction with pay, training, and development opportunities

  • Working environment and culture

  • Workplace policies and processes

  • Suggested improvements

Remember – there is no point in doing exit interviews unless you follow up on the information you collect. Make sure you have processes in place to review exit interviews and action any workable changes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is constructive dismissal?

Constructive dismissal occurs when an employee resigns from their position, but the termination of their employment is deemed to have been initiated by the employer.

What if the employee does not have an employment agreement?

An employee without an employment agreement does not need to give a set amount of notice to their employer before resigning. However, a reasonable notice period should still be provided.

While resignation is a process started by the employee, there are obligations that you as an employer must meet. For assistance, contact our FREE 24/7 Advice Line on 0800 568 012.

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