Handling Resignations

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Resignations can often come out of the blue and leave employers in a sticky situation; others can represent welcome news. Your actions on receiving the resignation will be dictated by how valuable you perceive the employee to be but there are a few pointers to consider in all resignations processes.

Acknowledge the resignation

If the resignation was given verbally, ask for it in writing. Then write back to the employee accepting their resignation, checking that they have given the correct amount of notice as per their contract of employment. If they haven’t given enough, remind them that they are contractually obliged to give a certain amount. Some employees give more than the required notice and it is in the employer’s best interests to accept this; enforcing the shorter notice runs the risk of a constructive dismissal claim. Confirm the employee’s last day of employment.

Do you want to ask the employee to reconsider?

Resignations given in the heat of the moment may not be the employee’s true intention. Stressful days or conflicts with colleagues can lead employees to make rash decisions so giving them the chance to cool down before accepting the resignation may be advisable; you might save a good employee. In addition, unreasonably refusing a withdrawal may be risky.

If the employee is particularly valuable, you may want to offer an incentive for them to stay e.g. a pay rise, a more senior role, a team move. Be prepared to negotiate.

Do you want them to work their notice?

Notice periods are there for a reason. They allow you to prepare for the employee’s departure by starting a recruitment exercise to find a replacement in good time so a handover can take place. In some circumstances, having an employee work their notice may not be advisable, for example, if you have concerns they may try to steal company data. In this situation, you could agree to shorten the notice period, or if the contract allows, pay in lieu of notice or enforce garden leave. Garden leave allows you to require the employee to remain at home during the notice period whilst remaining an employee.

Can employees take annual leave during their notice?

Yes, provided they give the sufficient amount of notice. Remember that you can decline a request. If an employee takes holidays during their notice period this would reduce or avoid any residual holiday pay due to the employee upon termination.

Exit interview

Feedback on the company as a whole from someone who is leaving can be a useful development tool to see what you are doing right and where you may be able to improve your retention rate.

Is there a restrictive covenant?

Restrictive covenants limit the actions of employees after they have left your company. You can ask any employee to sign one but they are most valuable for senior employees to prevent them working for a competitor, poaching your employees, contacting your clients etc. If there is one in place, remind the employee of their obligations under it. If there isn’t, try to get the employee to agree to it before they leave.


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