• Leah Norman

Accepting Resignations

An employee might resign from their employment for any number of reasons; to move on to other employment opportunities, to go back to school for further education / training, to travel, to raise a family, or even sometimes, because they simply don’t want to work for you anymore.


When an employee tenders their resignation it it recommended that you receive this in writing, if necessary request this from the employee. Once you have received this resignation letter, it is important to acknowledge it in reply by providing the employee with a letter formally accepting their resignation.


The style and the tone of a letter accepting a resignation will usually be determined by the circumstances surrounding the resignation. In general, the letter will typically indicate that you regret losing the employee, but you respect, understand, and appreciate the decision they have made to move on. Your letter should inform them that you have received and accepted the letter, and it should clearly state his or her official last day of work with the Company.


Letters of this type may be formal or informal depending on both the circumstances leading up to the resignation and the employer’s personal relationship with the employee.


What about "heat-of-the-moment" resignation?

Even the most harmonious workplaces can sometimes experience discord, where an employer may unexpectedly be faced with a heat of the moment resignation that sees the employee storming off, vowing never to return. When an employee resigns or says something that could be interpreted as a resignation in the heat of the moment, I recommend you allow a "cooling down" period to see whether they may feel differently in a calmer state.


In these circumstances it is recommended that an employer should act with caution.


No matter how tempting it may be to accept the resignation on the spot, your good faith obligations require you to be a responsive and communicative employer. It is particularly important to clarify the employee’s position if the “resignation” is accompanied by a comment like “I’ve had enough of this” - which could be a warning sign.

  1. Say to the employee that you think the resignation was made in the heat of the moment and you would like to allow at least 24 hours for the employee to cool off before you accept any resignation.

  2. Make it clear that you are available to discuss any issues or concerns.

  3. After 24 hours, contact the employee and confirm whether they do still want to resign.

This will give the employee time to calm down and reflect and either:

  • Withdraw their resignation

  • Confirm that they didn’t intend to resign

  • Confirm that they did intend to resign.

You should also ask the employee to confirm what they want to do in writing so there can be no dispute later.


You are not expected to wait for an excessive amount of time to establish whether the resignation is genuine or not - 24-48 hours is a sufficient cooling off period in most cases. If the employee doesn’t respond within a reasonable amount of time, then it may be reasonable for the employer to act on the basis that they have resigned.


Disclaimer This article, and any information contained on our website is necessarily brief and general in nature, and should not be substituted for professional advice. You should always seek professional advice before taking any action in relation to the matters addressed.

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