Best Practices When Handling an Employee Resignation

Posted by Payroll Partners on Sep 25, 2019 8:00:00 AM

Even for the best employers, employee resignations are inevitable. Whatever the reason---they think they've found greener pastures, their spouse has accepted a position out of state, or family responsibilities require their time and attention---the resignation of  an employee sets into motion a series of steps that you should take to ensure a smooth transition.

First and foremost, ask the outgoing employee to submit a written resignation letter that clearly states the final date of employment. This can help protect you from any legal claims such as unemployment claims and/or accusations of impropriety on your part.

If the resigning employee has been a positive contributor and valued employee, you will likely let them work out their final two weeks. This will help ease the transition to the new hire. In that period, the resigning employee can finish any immediate projects, get the remaining employees up to speed on ongoing projects, and email colleagues about their leaving. You may even ask them to draft a procedure manual detailing the responsibilities of his/her position.

If you decide that the employee should work their final two weeks, immediately send out an email to notify remaining employees. Make sure your message expresses gratitude and wishes the resigning employee luck as they move forward.

Naturally, once a colleague has tendered their resignation, the remaining employees may have questions regarding procedures moving forward. It is a good practice for you to provide a message of certainty---they’ll likely wonder when and how the person is going to be replaced. Will they be asked to take on extra responsibilities? Are these added responsibilities going to be permanent or temporary? Make sure to promptly address any and all concerns to the best of your ability.


If an employee’s resignation is a welcome event, you may choose to not let them work out their final two weeks. Perhaps they aren’t a valued employee, or they can’t be trusted to maintain a professional demeanor for those final two weeks. It is up to you to avoid drama infecting the remaining workforce. If this is the case, inform the employee that their services are no longer needed but they will be paid for their final two weeks.

Not paying them for their final two weeks runs the risk of setting up a norm in which outgoing employees simply quit with zero notice or forewarning. It is also common practice to escort the resigning employee out of the building.

Of course, a resignation announcement for an unwanted employee must also be sent out. It is important to be on your guard in these cases as you don’t want the contents of the announcement to be used litigiously or in an unemployment claim. Maintain professionalism and draft a simple announcement informing those that remain that the employee has left, and you wish them well.

Following these steps will help ensure that that the resigning employee has little to no grounds by which to sue. By paying the final two weeks, you look like the good guy and you’ve managed to rid yourself of a problem employee--both are more valuable than two weeks compensation.


New call-to-action




Topics: Human Resources