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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. While this will often involve a letter of resignation, there are many other formal steps which must be followed.

Once you have received notice from an employee that they wish to resign, again this will often be in the form of a resignation letter, the process you should follow is:

• confirm the notice period in the employment agreement
• formally accept the resignation of the employee
• using the employment agreement and any legal guidance calculate the final pay of the employee
• collect property of the company

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.

When an employer receives notice of resignation

After an employee provides advice that they wish to resign, the first step for any employer is to check their employment agreement to ensure the notice period matches the stated intent of the employee. Although, an employer can agree with the employee that they do not have to work out the rest of their notice period. That is, if the employee has given two weeks’ notice they may still be required to give four weeks’ notice and depending on when they leave their final pay could be impacted.

While accepting resignation is not a formal process, nor something required as an employee cannot be stopped from leaving at the end of their notice period, getting a letter of resignation or something in writing to this effect is the best way to ensure resignation is intended by the employee. This is especially important if an employee has resigned verbally.

Unintended resignation and cooling-off period

In certain circumstances, the best example is during an argument, an employee can tell you they quit or say something similar which many employers can easily interpret as a resignation. In these instances, it is important to be clear about whether there has actually been a resignation. Employers are advised to allow at least 24 hours for the employee to cool off before attempting to confirm whether it is a genuine resignation or not.

At this stage, the employee can approach the situation with a calmer attitude and can withdraw their resignation, confirm they didn’t intend to resign, or they can simply reiterate that they do wish to resign. If your employee does state again that they wish to resign, this is a perfect opportunity to try and obtain a resignation letter to confirm this is the case.

Incorrectly assuming an employee has resigned without confirming this in writing can be an expensive mistake and can lead to a claim of constructive dismissal.

Resignation withdrawal

There are some cases of employees resigning in writing and later withdrawing the request. Employers have to decide whether to allow this to be withdrawn and to let the employee continue on with work, or whether to refuse the withdrawal of the resignation. Regardless of which choice is made by an employer, the outcome should be communicated in writing to ensure no misunderstandings exist.

While resignation is a process started by the employee, there are obligations on you as an employer. For assistance contact our advice line day or night on 0800 568 012.

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