Resignation advice guide

12 May 2020

From time to time, employees will resign from their roles in your business. So you should prepare to have the correct procedure ready for when you receive the news.   

It’ll help you to manage the process in a fair and lawful manner. As there are important employment laws to get right when dealing with resignations in Ireland.

And we take you through the essential information in this detailed guide.

Resignation meaning—a quick explanation

It’s where an employee (in written or verbal form) informs a business they’re leaving their role. The employee must provide notice to employers for resignation.

Employment relationships can end in various different ways. These include:

  1. If an employee hands in their notice of resignation in Ireland. Again, that can be in written or verbal form.
  2. If your business ends the contract of employment—that’s a dismissal.
  3. When an employee reaches a justifiable contractual retirement age.

Once they’ve informed you of their intentions to resign, they’ll work a notice period. During this time, you can look to hire a replacement—or promote another employee.

But can an employer refuse to accept a resignation? No. You can try to change their mind but if that doesn’t work, you must accept their resignation.

When you request that an employee reconsiders their decision, a common approach to convince them to stay is an employer counteroffer after resignation.

These are where you offer to match (or better) contractual terms under a new contract. An example here is to increase their annual wage—or offer perks, such as a company car.

But how long is the notice of resignation? An employee’s contract of employment will explain the general notice period for resignation.

This can vary, depending on the length of time they’ve worked with you. There are two types of notice to keep in mind:

  • Contractual notice: Your business can determine this amount, such as requiring two months’ notice for an employee with two years’ experience with you.
  • Statutory notice: What is legally expected of an employee, which will depend on their length of service.

If an employee has worked at least 13 weeks for your business, then they must give you at least one week’s notice of their intention to resign.

One week’s notice is generally not enough time for employers to arrange a replacement employee and underlines the value of an appropriate contractual notice period that works for your business.

If you wish, you can pay your employee to not work their notice period—that’s payment in lieu of notice (PILON).

There’s also garden leave, which is also where you tell your employee not to come into your office.

It differs from PILON as the individual is still an employee during garden leave. And that means they can’t work for another business until it ends.

Whereas an employee receiving PILON, they can leave the business immediately and go to work elsewhere.

What should employers do when an employee resigns?

If you accept their resignation, there are a number of steps to follow. These are:

  • Obtain written confirmation, which must include their employee’s name, the date, and a signature. You should receive a resignation letter for even a short period of employment.
  • Acknowledge the resignation with a written and verbal response. You can also send a resignation email with the notice period confirmed.
  • Decide whether you want them to work their full notice period—and then confirm your decision with the departing employee.
  • Organise a handover pack for their replacement.
  • Arrange and conduct an exit interview, if you have such a procedure.
  • Retrieve any important items from them, such as security passes, tools, computers, devices, or uniform.
  • Organise the individual’s final wage payment—you must pay them, even if they’re leaving your business. Failing to do so can result in a Workplace Relations Commission claim.

You should also aim to end your professional relationship with the employee on a positive note.

After all, they may one day return to work for your business.

The employee may also request a reference. You don’t legally have to supply this, but it can be a gesture of goodwill to them.

Resignations and maternity leave

Resigning while on maternity leave in Ireland is something employers sometimes have to deal with.

This can be frustrating for employers who have already had to make alternative arrangements to cover the employee’s absence during their maternity leave.  

Employers who pay their employees while they are on maternity leave generally include a clause in the contract of employment requiring the employee to continue to work for a minimum period following the end of their maternity leave.

If the employment contract is silent on resignations during maternity leave, you may have to deal with employees who never return to work following their maternity leave.

Employees continue to accrue annual leave while they are on maternity leave and sometimes use their accrued annual leave (usually around three weeks) to avoid working out their notice period.

It pays to stay in touch with employees while they are on maternity leave and to include some protection in your employment contract to avoid HR complications when an employee is due to return from a period of maternity leave.

Need our help?

If you need further assistance with employee resignations, you can call us for expert advice: 1890 252 923.

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