How To Resign From Your Employment

Before you accept that handsome offer of new employment, pause for a moment. How will you resign from your current job?

You may not think this matters too much. You’ll just resign, work out your notice, move to the next thing. The transition will be easy. Right?


But handing in your resignation is like pulling a trigger. The notice you give to leave ends your relationship.

There may be some consequences to ending your relationship that you never thought of.

To avoid surprises, and to leave as cleanly as you can, here are my suggestions.


Dig out your employment agreement (assuming you have one).

You may have never read it before. Well, now is the time.

Here are the things you want to check before you hand in your notice:

  • How do I resign? Does the resignation notice need to be in writing? If so, then you must give written notice to resign. It doesn’t have to be a letter – an email could be just fine.
  • What period of notice do I have to give? Your agreement should specify this. If it does not, then you need to give reasonable notice. What is reasonable? Depends on your industry. Less than two weeks would be unusual. Four weeks is typical. You can give longer notice if allowed by the agreement.
  • Can your employer put me on garden leave or pay me in lieu? Your employer can ignore the period of notice specified in your agreement in some cases. If your agreement permits, they can put you on garden leave or pay you out your notice period. You will leave the workplace much sooner in that case. If sent on garden leave, you remain employed for the balance of your notice period. That means you can’t work anywhere else during that time. If paid out your notice period, you are free to move to a new place of work – if you wish – as soon as you leave. Are you mentally prepared to leave the workplace in a hurry? You might need to be.
  • Are you bound by restraints? Take notice of what you can and can’t do after you leave your employment. No employee can use their employer’s confidential information. But your agreement may also specify other restrictions. Common ones include that you must not poach your employer’s staff or clients for a period of time. More onerous restrictions may prevent you from working for competitors. Factor these restrictions into your thinking about where you go next before resigning.
  • What do you have to give back? Some jobs come with perks. Company cars, mobile phones, laptops, and paid internet at home. When your employment ends, you’ll have to give up these perks and hand back all property. If your employer pays you out, you may have to return them very soon after you resign. They are your employer’s property and resources after all. You may be able to negotiate to keep these items for a time, but what you will do if that doesn’t happen?


So you have looked over your agreement. You understand your obligations and are ready to resign. Now, how do you practically do it?

Putting the resignation notice in writing is a good idea in all cases, even if you are not obliged to do so. It just makes things clearer.

Things to include in your resignation notice:

  • That you are resigning (obviously);
  • The amount of notice you are giving; and
  • When you calculate your last day of work to be.

If your employer has an issue with the amount of notice you are giving, they can then let you know. Otherwise, by giving this notice, you will both be clear about when the relationship is ending.

Here is an example notice you might follow:

Dear Boss

Please treat this email/letter as notice that I wish to resign from my employment with XYZ Limited.

My agreement specifies I must give four weeks’ notice. So my last working day will be 5 June 2018.

Yours sincerely,

Jim Bob


It can be exciting to move to another role. But be careful that in the midst of your excitement you do not overlook your contractual obligations.

Read your employment agreement carefully. Prepare yourself for what may happen when you “pull the trigger”.

Then, when you’re ready, give thought to your notice of resignation so everyone is clear.

That way, you’ll leave the best way you can.

Are you thinking of resigning? Did your employment agreement contain anything you did not expect that made the resignation difficult?

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