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What to do when an employee resigns

It’s just about guaranteed that at some point, one of your staff is going to resign.

You can minimise the impact their departure will have on your business by planning for it and having a good process to follow.

An employee’s resignation — the step-by-step process

Follow these steps to make sure employee resignations are handled professionally, protect yourself, and say ‘goodbye’ in the most constructive way possible.

Step 1. Your employee resigns

Any employee can resign at any time. If they resign verbally first, they need to follow it up with a resignation letter stating their last day of employment with you — they must give you at least the amount of notice stated in their employment contract.

If an employee leaves without giving notice, you don’t have to pay them beyond their last actual working day.

Step 2. Check their employment agreement

Make sure they’ve given you as much notice as they need to do. If they give more notice than required, you have to accept — but you can’t try to make them give more than the minimum. If you do, you could face a personal grievance case.

Step 3. Confirm their resignation in writing

Give your employee a letter to confirm their resignation, with details including:

  • the date
  • confirmation of the notice period
  • that the resignation is voluntary.

You can also thank them for their service to the company, and wish them well with their future plans. Make sure you include a copy of this letter in your employee’s file.

What do I need to do when record keeping

Step 4. Prepare for their departure

Complete the employee exit checklist to make sure you’ve done everything you need to do.

Your checklist for when an employee leaves

Resignation(external link) — Employment New Zealand

Giving and accepting notice(external link) — Employment New Zealand

Abandonment of employment(external link) — Employment New Zealand

Forced resignation

You can’t force or put pressure on someone to resign. If you do, it could be considered a ‘forced resignation’ or ‘constructive dismissal’. You could end up with a personal grievance case against you.

A forced resignation happens where one or more of the following occurs:

  • the employer has followed a course of conduct deliberately aimed at getting the employee to resign
  • the employee is told to choose between resigning or being dismissed
  • the employer has breached the employment agreement to such a degree that the employee feels he or she cannot remain in the job.

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