Resignation etiquette for employers

Dealing with an employee resignation can be difficult, especially when it occurs unexpectedly. However, it is important that employers apply the correct etiquette to ensure that departures occur smoothly and with minimal disruption. Peninsula’s associate director Kate Palmer suggests how adopting the right attitude and processes can help employers to navigate beyond troubled waters.

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Don’t take it personally

Employers should remember that a number of factors may influence a resignation, such as family commitments or the desire for a career change; therefore, it is important not to take the resignation personally. It is also important to consider that submitting a resignation can be a difficult and sometimes nerve-wracking process for many individuals. Taking the time to discuss the situation openly and honestly will allow employers to gain a greater understanding of the situation and potentially address any issues within their own business that may have influenced the employee’s decision.

Check your ground

However, not all employees will offer their resignation in the correct way. Individuals may appear to resign in the heat of the moment during a disagreement at work and employers should work to clarify the situation to understand the employee’s true intentions. However tempting it may be to let this lie, employers should reach out to the employee and ask them to confirm if they do indeed wish to resign. Doing so will help protect employers from any claim of constructive dismissal if an employee tries to argue that they were forced out of the organisation.

Get it in writing

If an employee does not provide their resignation in writing, then employers should ask for this document as soon as possible. This is an important aspect of good record keeping and will confirm an employee’s effective resignation date should there be any disputes over this further down the line. 

Stay professional

Although employers may feel frustrated with an employee who offers their resignation, especially if the employee is highly valued by the organisation, it is important to respond in a calm and professional manner. Employers cannot refuse an individual’s resignation regardless of how much they want them to remain with the business; the employee is simply activating a provision of their contract. However, they may wish to offer the employee an incentive to remain with the organisation, such as a higher salary or additional benefits.

Say thank you

Once a resignation has been confirmed, employers are strongly advised to provide confirmation of their acknowledgement in writing. This offers an opportunity for employers to thank the staff member for their service and remind them of the need to return any company equipment which may be in their possession.

Parting shots

Importantly, employers should also use this opportunity to confirm when an employee’s final day in work will be, which depends on the amount of notice an employee is required to give. The statutory notice period for those with at least a months’ service is one week. However, if an employee has contractual notice which is greater than the statutory amount, then this can be enforced.

Keep calm and carry on

Ultimately, employers need to keep in mind that dealing with resignations is an essential part of managing a business. Those who are able to streamline this process, and implement a uniform way of handling resignations correctly, should be able to remove a significant amount of discomfort from the situation, enabling them to devote more resources into recruiting suitable replacements. 

About the author

Kate Palmer is associate director at Peninsula, a team of HR, employment law, and health and safety experts.

See also

Five things employers should know about collective redundancies  

A guide to redundancy payments for directors

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