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What to do if an employee resigns

What should employers do when someone leaves?

When an employee resigns, it is important for employers to handle the situation professionally. To ensure a smooth transition and to try and maintain positive relationships, here is a summary of what you should do when an employee resigns.

1. Acknowledge the resignation.

It is good practice to acknowledge the resignation promptly and without unnecessary delay as well as formally in writing. This will assure the employee that their resignation has been received and taken seriously. The letter can detail the arrangements in place for example confirming the notice period, the employee’s last day, outstanding holiday, return of company property etc. 

2. Schedule a meeting.

You may also wish to schedule a meeting with the employee to discuss work including current/future commitments or deadlines and any handover required or points not raised in the acknowledgement letter. A meeting might also be a useful opportunity to ascertain whether there are any underlying issues as to why the employee has resigned which you may need to address including any risk of an employment tribunal claim.

3. Carry out an exit interview.

Ask the employee if they would be willing to partake in an exit interview. This is another opportunity to discuss reasons for leaving, to gauge their experience of working within the organisation, understand where improvements are needed and if there are any issues that need to be addressed. Whilst no one likes criticism, being able to acknowledge and address issues is a sign of a good employer and will do wonders in future especially in maintaining a high retention rate.

4. Communicate the resignation.

Inform appropriate members of staff as soon as you can. This will facilitate with making arrangements for the employee’s departure. Not keeping staff informed of upcoming changes or leaving them to find out on their own accord can impact staff morale so it is important to be open and communicate with staff whenever possible.

5. Plan a handover.

If there is a need, arrange a handover with relevant staff or any new employee employed as a replacement. Doing this ensures that critical tasks/deadlines are met. This is particularly important in organisations where supply of services is a key part of the business.

6. Check the employee’s contract.

Review the employee’s contract of employment to see if there are any existing obligations and any restrictions that will exist for a period following the employee’s departure. This is important as if there is a risk of the departing employee working for a competitor or using key contacts/information that they have dealt with during their employment which could impact your business and you have post-termination restrictions set out in their contract, now would be a good time to remind the employee of their contractual obligations.

7. Check whether any training was undertaken.

If you have a training recoupment clause in the employee’s contract or a separate agreement you may be able to recover the costs of any training undertaken by the departing employee. The amount you can recover will depend on the agreement and when the training was carried out. You may be able to deduct this legally from the employee’s last pay and this will be dependent on what is set out in the employment contract or the training agreement.

8. Check whether there are any sums owed by the employee.

This includes any loans, costs of uniforms and damage to property. 

9. Update your accounts/payroll team.

Ensure that accounts/payroll are aware of who is leaving and that their details should be removed from the system following their last pay period. This is crucially important as it is very common for employers to make administrative errors following an employee’s departure where they are kept on payroll and paid resulting in the inconvenience and embarrassment of having to seek the return of the sums paid months later.

To conclude

There is no right or wrong way of dealing with a resignation so long as you acknowledge it and what action you take will depend on the circumstances but using the above as a guide of the types of things you may wish to consider is a good starting point and will certainly aid a smooth transition.

If you are unsure about any points raised above or are currently dealing with a resignation and need assistance, please do get in touch with a member of the team.

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The information contained in this blog post is provided for guidance and is a snapshot of the law at the time it is written. It is provided for your information only and should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice that it specific to your particular circumstances.

The guidance should not be relied upon in any decision making process. It is strongly recommended that you seek advice before taking action.

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