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10 Things You Need To Do When An Employee Resigns

by Ian Cowley, Managing Director of

interview talk

Whether it’s a bolt out of the blue or completely expected, there are several things you need to do, plus a few additional things you should do to make their departure as smooth as possible for both of you.

Here’s my checklist:

1. Get written confirmation.

Ask your employee to put their resignation in writing, along with the date of resignation. This will help to avoid disputes over the start and end of any notice period. Plus ensure they are 100 per cent sure of their decision.

2. Decide whether you want them to work their notice.

You might feel it’s better to pay your employee in lieu of all or part of their notice period, if your contract enables you to do so or the employee agrees. This is especially worth considering if you think their continued presence will be bad for morale or might affect relationships with clients. Just ensure you have another employee able to fill their shoes if you go down this route.

3. Confirm their notice period.

This is usually agreed as part of their employment contract.  If not, the minimum statutory notice of at least one week’s notice, if employed continuously for one month or more will apply. It’s worth knowing that this does not apply to casual workers, independent contractors or freelancers. They will only be bound to a notice period if you have previously agreed.

4. Agree how to announce to other staff.

A staff departure can unsettle a team. It’s human nature to wonder if the grass is greener and the realisation that a peer can get another job, can either inspire or create anxiety as they worry how their role will be filled. I always ask that the resignation is kept confidential until you have put in place the plans you need to ensure their departure is seamless. That way, you can anticipate and address concerns and answer all queries with confidence.

5. Organise a handover period.

This will ensure a smooth transition as your employee’s replacement is given the opportunity to come up to speed, in order to hit the ground running as soon as the notice period is up. It also makes best use of a notice period in which you will naturally reduce your resignee’s client contact and management responsibility. This way, they are still being productive by providing invaluable on-the-job training.

6. Arrange an exit interview.

An exit interview is a fantastic way to understand if there are underlying issues that need to be addressed. However, getting to that point can be difficult. It’s therefore important to ask the right questions and consider whether you might be the right person to conduct it. It maybe someone seen as more neutral, for example an external HR freelancer or a non-executive director, might elicit more useful information.

Questions to consider are:

  • What have you enjoyed most/least about this role/working for the company?
  • What problems have you encountered?
  • How easy was it to get on with…?
  • Did you feel valued?
  • How satisfied were you with money/opportunities/facilities etc?
  • When did you start looking for a new job?
  • How does your new role compare?

An exit interview also allows you to identify any issues that might drive an employee to claim discrimation or constructive dismissal. These wrongs could be corrected before they leave. Just be careful not to say anything that may be later used against you. Again another reason why it might be better to get a more neutral staff member to host the exit meeting. 

7. Organise final payment.

When an employee leaves, they are entitled to the obvious including outstanding pay (including overtime) and pay for untaken holidays. However there are number of other things that must be considered if, for example, they leave during statutory maternity, or if they have a pension with you. Work with your financial team or accountant to manage this properly.

8. Give them a send off.

If this is appropriate, it’s a great way of ensuring you part on good terms. After all the employee might become a client or a source of future referrals. Equally a resentful ex-employee can damage your reputation or sabotage relationships you worked hard to build with team members and clients.

9. Say goodbye personally.

It costs nothing to say thank you. No matter what you think about your employee’s departure, they’ve contributed in some way or form to the growth of your business. Acknowledge the role they’ve played and show your gratitude. In some cases this might be lip service but it goes a long way to ensuring there is no animosity on their part.

10. Provide references with care.

There are a number of legal implications that make providing a reference a minefield. You have to ensure that what you say is true and fair. A future employer can hold you liable if the worker is not as you describe. Conversely an ex-employee can take you to court or tribunal if they think the reference is inaccurate.

If approached, I would advise offering a reference that simply states the dates they worked and number of sick days. If they are valued, you can offer an off the record chat to future employers.


Ian Cowley

Ian Cowley is the managing director of the UK’s largest dedicated printer cartridge company –


This is an article contributed to Young Upstarts and published or republished here with permission. All rights of this work belong to the authors named in the article above.

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