09 July 2019

It’s an inevitability of business life—employees will, from time to time, resign. And it can be difficult to deal with if they’re an effective member of your team. Even if you’re disappointed about an employment resignation, you should treat your departing staff member with respect during their final working days with your business. And you’ll need to follow a specific process in line with existing employment laws. For this guide, we take a detailed look at what you need to do if one of your employees resigns.

How a notice of resignation works

Okay, what’s a resignation definition? It’s the act of resigning from a role and when an individual officially confirms their intention to leave your business. When an employee resigns it's a requirement, generally, for them to work their notice. There are two types of notice period:

  1. Statutory.
  2. Contractual.

The first is the basic notice that's British law requires. The second allows your business to determine how long the notice period should be, such as four weeks. There are various rules regarding how an employee can leave your business. And you’ll need to stick to them to remain compliant with the current laws.

The differences between contractual and statutory notice

It’s the amount of notice you set out in your terms and conditions, but these two options vary. For statutory notice, a typical example is a week of notice from an employee with less than two years' service. But if you want to, under contractual notice you could change this to one month. So you’re free to offer notice terms that suit your business requirements, but you aren’t allowed to offer less than the statutory minimum.

Leaving notice requirements

When resigning, meaning your employee intends to leave your business, you’ll need to consider how long they’ve been with your company—along with their seniority. Job notice is a legal requirement. As such, when an employee is leaving work, notice in writing is strongly advised. You can then determine the amount of statutory notice they require. This is a statutory notice requirement. For example:

  • One week’s notice: If the employee has worked between one month and two years’ service with you continuously.
  • Two weeks’ notice: Any employees who have worked two years’ continuous service must provide at least this amount.
  • 4 weeks’ notice: This applies when anyone with you for over two years. They'll have one week of extra notice for every year they worked for you, up to a maximum of 12.
  • Immediate resignation: If you have an employee not covered by an employment contract, they can resign with immediate effect. Otherwise, you’ll have to set the appropriate amount of notice as per their length of time with your business.

So, a 2 weeks’ notice example is if you have a web developer who spent two years for you and wishes to leave to pursue a change of career. In response to their resignation letter (we detail this requirement in further detail below), you should inform them about the amount of notice they have to serve.

How to manage a resignation

It’s good business practice to follow a consistent process with departing staff members. You should make sure your managers are all aware of what to do so they can follow your company policies. Some of the steps to take include:

  • Ensure your employees know the right procedures. Ask them to put their resignation in writing. If they make a verbal resignation in the heat of the moment—but later change their mind—then they could make a claim for unfair dismissal. So it’s important to get their statement for your records.
  • Respond to your employee in writing. You can explain the termination date on their contract and when the staff member’s last working day will be.
  • Request they perform a handover for their replacement. This will streamline the process of getting up to speed for your new employee.
  • Perform an exit interview to understand why they’re leaving. You can find out some revealing details as to why they’re leaving your business, which may not necessarily be because they’re unhappy working for you. They may wish to relocate for family reasons, for instance.
  • Have a template of exit interview questions ready for their final day. These are useful so you get a better understanding of why they’re leaving and what they liked or disliked about your business.

Remember, too, to remind your employee they can reconsider their resignation. If it was during the heat of the moment, you should remind them they can request to have their resignation stopped. There’s no legal obligation for you to accept this request. But do make sure it's sent in writing for your records. Failing that, if you’re keen to keep the member of staff with your organisation then you can try a different approach to maintain their services.

Considering counter offers

One measure you can take to keep your employee with your business is to tempt them to stay. Employees typically leave businesses for:

  • Better wage packages.
  • Improvements for their work-life balance.
  • More bonuses or perks.
  • Relocation purposes.

You can provide a salary counter offer letter to combat several of these factors, which may also include various perks to show them you’re committed to their services. A few good tactics include:

  • Letting your employee know they’re appreciated in your business and you’re happy to make adjustments to keep them with you.
  • Making the counter offer and thinking through what will keep the staff member on, besides a pay rise.
  • Offering to meet them for a 1-1 meeting and discuss their reasons for leaving. And what you can do to keep them with your business.

Remember, you can throw all and sundry at an employee—praise, wage increases, and flexible times—but if they’re set on leaving you’ll have to accept their decision. Legally, you have no right to demand they stay with your business.

Writing an acceptance letter

Whether you’re happy with the resignation or not, you should respond to your employee’s resignation letter. In your response, you should make sure you:

  • Use your official business letterhead paper.
  • State you accept their resignation.
  • Thank them for their service and explain you understand their reasons for leaving.
  • Document the dates for when their final working day will be.
  • Include any miscellaneous information, such as what to do with any work uniform or any clocking in devices they use.

You can refer to the below template for help with writing your letter. But please remember it’s for guidance only. You should make sure to adapt your letter to meet the requirements of your employee and business.

*Start of template*

Business letterhead details, Your name and title, Address, Date, Dear [employee’s name], We’re writing to inform you that we accept your resignation and as per the terms of your contract you are required to work [insert number] weeks’ notice. Your final working day with the business will be [insert date]. In your remaining time with us, we are sure you will continue to perform to your usual high standards. It is a pleasure to have worked with you and we’ll be happy to provide a reference upon request. We wish you all the best in the future. Yours sincerely, [Handwritten or typed signature]

*End of template*

Resigning without handing in notice

Remember there are quitting without notice consequences for your employee. If they leave without notice with immediate effect, then you can try and claim the employee breached their contract. It can be a costly and time-consuming process, however. However, as we covered further above, if they don’t have a contract of employment with your business then they don’t need to hand their notice in.

Need help with a resignation?

If you want to know how to deal with a departing employee, or you’re looking to tempt them to stay, then contact us for immediate help: 0800 028 2420.

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