I quit! How to handle resignations.

Tuesday February 7, 2017


It has been a momentous few days of resignations, where do we begin! We’ve had the Prime Minister announce his intention to leave, and a flood of Labour Party resignations, themselves designed to force Mr Corbyn’s own resignation! Roy Hodgson’s departure after a humiliating English defeat to Iceland in the Euros on Monday was probably the only one that you could’ve predicted.

For your business, resignations may not make the national press, but they’ll still hurt. If you employ people, you’ll one day have to accept a resignation. Whether it’s completely out of the blue or you saw it coming, you’ll need to know what to do next to minimise its impact on the business. How you deal with it may depend on the resignation!

Most resignations given at a face to face meeting between the employee and their line manager, may be accompanied with an official resignation letter. This is the appropriate way, but not all resignations are entirely appropriate! Resignation cakes, rude letters, and leaving pranks have all been used (often with creative language!) to give employers notice. Making sure there is a clear process outlined in your employment contracts may help staff stick to the proper way of doing things.

Accepting a resignation can be emotionally difficult, especially in a smaller business. But remember that this is the point where you need to start planning your next move. You may have initially been caught off guard, but get back to the script as quickly as you can. Stay positive and book in some time for a chat with the leaver to plan their exit, work out their notice, and importantly determine their reasons for leaving. It may be that it’s just time for them to move on, that they wish to take their career in new directions, or it could be for personal reasons. But have that chat in case it was over an issue at work that you could resolve. Beware of resignations used as a bargaining tool to get more money, this is tantamount to blackmail and not a course of action to be recommended.

Have a garden leave clause in your employment contracts? If their continued employment during their notice period poses a risk to your operations, it may be worth sending them on garden leave on full pay; better safe than sorry, especially when intellectual property is involved. A pay in lieu of notice clause allows you to end the employment immediately, or at a point of your choosing during the contractual notice period and pay the balance of notice in lieu of them working.

Finally, receiving a resignation doesn’t always spell the end of the employment relationship. Those given in the heat of the moment can and should be reconsidered if subsequently retracted. This may be someone storming off with a “I’ve had enough of this”, but coming back cap in hand the next day. Book in a chat with the employee to clarify their intentions.

Ensuring this process runs smoothly is in both your own and your employee’s interest. Get in touch with The HR Dept to make sure it’s being done right, and that your employment contracts are there to support you. Also check out our leaver’s form, available as a free resource. It may help guide you in tying up those loose ends.


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