How to Deal with Employee Resignations

By Carol Smith
29 Aug 2019

Employees resigning is an inevitability, no matter how generous you are as a business towards your workforce.

But resignation doesn’t have to be bitter, messy, or tense. Handling a resignation well gives your organisation’s reputation a boost and leaves the door open for the employee to return.

In this guide, we’ll explain how to manage the situation so you can limit productivity issues and overcome the loss of a talented member of staff.

However, if this is an urgent matter, you can get in touch with us for immediate help with a member of staff’s employment contract.


Employee resignation process

The first step is to ensure you get written confirmation. Make sure the exact date is in the letter so there aren’t any disputes over the notice period.

Make a decision as to whether you want the employee to work their full notice period, if not you’ll have to pay them in lieu. Once you’re clear on the route to take, let the member of staff know so they can make plans.

There are two types of notice:

Contractual notice is set out by you, giving you control over how long the period should be. If there is no mention of contractual notice, then the statutory notice will apply.

Statutory notice is the minimum amount of notice an employee should work by law. This is one week’s notice if they've been with the business for over a month.

Agree with them when they’ll announce their departure and arrange a handover period (we’ll look at what you should include in this a little later on).

Arrange a time and date for an exit interview to take place.

You should also organise when they'll receive their final payment, including pay in lieu of working a notice period, unused holidays, bonuses, etc.

If appropriate, you can arrange a farewell gift or party for the employee, to show their service has been of value.

Finally, on the day of departure, ensure they return all security passes and business property.

Try to part on good terms and make a point of saying goodbye personally. This leaves the door open for their return, as well as the potential for them to refer business to you at a later stage.


Accepting employee resignation

Letting someone in your workforce go after receiving their resignation letter is difficult, but it’s important that you accept they're leaving.

In some cases, you may be able to resolve whatever issue was the cause of them wanting to resign, but in most instances, this won’t happen.

The most important thing is to minimise disruption and part ways on good terms.

One of the ways you can do this is with a formal letter accepting the employee’s resignation (we’ll look at what you should include in this a little later on, too).

In cases where the resigning individual is in possession of sensitive information, it may be worth taking precautions.

Options include implementing a non-disclosure agreement for the resigned employee or a restricted covenant. This can prevent them from working with another business of the same type within a reasonable time frame. The purpose of which is to stop them poaching customers.

Recently there was a lot of controversy around NDAs, but they’re legal, and if you use them in the correct way they can protect your business from data leaks and client poaching.


How to stop an employee from resigning

If an employee hands in their notice, you shouldn’t really approach their resignation from the angle of ‘how can I get them to stay?’

There’s nothing to stop you asking them if there’s anything you can do to keep them, of course. However, if they commit to leaving the organisation, then you should accept their decision.

One of the best methods of retaining other existing staff is an exit interview.

Meeting with the departing staff member lets them voice their thoughts and concerns—you can then use this feedback to stop anyone else resigning for the same reasons.


How to inform staff of employee resignation

It’s important that other members of staff and clients know about their resignation, for handover purposes.

If appropriate, you should run the announcement by resigning staff before telling their colleagues.

The first people you should tell are those working in the same department, as they’re the most likely to feel the loss.

Knowing the time frame of the resignation and the handover will put everyone at ease, and lets you keep disruption to a minimum.

You can use our 24-hour HR advice line for help with going about your recruiting strategy for a replacement. This can set in motion the steps you need to find new talent—but you could also consider promoting someone within your business.


Resignation handover

To assist with a smooth transition, many employers will put together an employee resignation handover checklist.

This is always a useful tool and is specific to each individual job role and industry. That’s why you need to write the checklist specifically for that leaver.

However, there are some pointers we can give to ensure you’re on the right track. Here are some of the things you should include in your checklist:

  • Brief description of duties of the resigning employee.
  • Who they report to.
  • Any regular meetings, reports, or procedures involving the resigning staff member.
  • Status of major projects, reports, or meetings they're involved with.
  • Where to find files vital to their role.
  • Who’ll take on each duty listed by the resigning employee.

Employee resignation letter

A letter from the employee is essential when it comes to resignation, but your response isn’t.

Although not essential, it’s courteous to issue a confirmation of employee resignation letter.

The letter itself doesn’t have to be too complex. It can go along the lines of the following:

Dear <Employee Name>

This letter confirms receipt and acceptance of your letter of resignation, which we received on <Date> for the position of <Job Title> in <Department Name>.

Your resignation will be effective as of <Date>, until which you are expected to work your notice period and assist with the handover of duties to <Colleague Name>.

You will continue to receive your usual salary through to your last day of employment, which will be <Date>

Please return all company property in your possession by your final day, otherwise, the cost may be deducted from your final salary.

We wish you all the best for the future and will always consider you part of the <Company Name> family.

Kind regards,

<Employer Name>


Expert Support

If one of your employees is resigning and you’re unsure how to move forward, or you simply have an HR query, speak to one of our employment law experts today on 0808 145 3380.

About the Author

Carol Smith

Carol joined Croner in 2001 as an Employment Consultant advising a wide range of clients on all aspects of Employment Law and HR practice. She demonstrates particular expertise in complex disciplinary, grievance matters and reorganisation / redundancy.


Carol Smith

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