When an employee wants to stop working for their employer, they need to formally let them know, and give them the right amount of notice.

Employee and employer responsibilities

                                                   What you should know
If you’re an employee If you’re an employer

Give your employer the right amount of notice – it’s best to do this in writing, even if your employment agreement does not require it.

Check the right amount of notice has been given.                                                                                                                                           

If you did not mean to resign – or have changed your mind – talk to your employer as soon as possible.

Confirm that the employee wants to resign.

You can ask to withdraw your resignation – but your employer doesn’t have to agree to the request.

Calculate final pay and entitlements.

Know your rights and responsibilities in regard to ‘constructive dismissal’ and abandoning your job.

Collect any company property.


Carrying out an exit interview can provide useful insights.

When an employee wants to resign

An employee can resign at any time by:

  • notifying their employer they’ll be leaving, and
  • giving their employer the required notice, agreed to in their employment agreement.

Most require notice to be given in writing, but even if this is not the case, the employee should do so to avoid misunderstandings. If an employee wants to resign, but is unsure of the notice period, they should ask their employer.

Want to give notice in writing? You can use the Resignation letter template.

Resignation letter template [DOCX, 19 KB]

Giving notice

Once notice has been given

When an employee gives notice of their resignation, the employer should first check that the right amount of notice has been given. The employer may, however, agree to the employee not working the agreed notice period.

If the correct notice has been given, the employer cannot stop the employee from leaving at the end of the notice period.

Before accepting a resignation, an employer should make sure that it’s what the employee really wants to do. If the employee has resigned verbally, the employer may ask them to confirm in writing the date they propose to finish.

The employer can, if they wish, follow up by accepting the resignation in writing.

Before an employee leaves

There are actions to take once a resignation has been accepted, such as calculating the employee’s final pay and collecting company property.

On or after last day of employment

Resignation in the heat of the moment

An employee may have resigned in the heat of the moment or have said or done something that might be interpreted as a resignation – for example, after an argument or when they were emotionally distressed.

If an employee thinks their employer might think they’ve resigned when they have not, they should talk to their employer and correct the misunderstanding as soon as possible. The employee should do this within a reasonable timeframe.

In situations like this, an employer should always check with an employee that they intended to resign. Text messages should not be relied upon because they can be open to interpretation.

Abandonment of employment

Sonja has an argument with a workmate at work, and leaves work angrily saying “I’m out of here”. Her manager Vivian calls her later that day and asks what happened. Sonja, still angry, tells her about the argument and that she was thinking about leaving due to the bad atmosphere. Vivian tells her to take a day to think about it and get back to her. Vivian calls Sonja again the next day and asks if Sonja still wants to resign. Sonja says that she doesn’t and asks Vivian to help resolve the bad working atmosphere. Sonja returns to work the next day and Vivian organises a meeting between Sonja and the other employees to help sort out their issues.

Withdrawing a resignation

If an employee has resigned but later changes their mind, they can ask to withdraw their resignation – but the employer does not have to agree to this. The employer should respond to the request in writing, so that there are no misunderstandings.

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