15 Steps to Accepting an Employee’s Resignation

  1. ACCEPT AND FILE. Accept any letter of resignation graciously and file it immediately. (If it is not dated and signed, ask the employee to date it and sign it). Do not prepare, edit, or rewrite the language of the letter of resignation; the employee should prepare the letter.
  2. ADDRESS COMPLAINTS. Address any complaints, criticism, or other issues mentioned in the letter of resignation. Depending on the nature of the complaint, the employer may wish to discuss the matter with the employee immediately, perhaps avoiding the resignation.  In other circumstances, it may be an issue that can be flushed out during an exit interview with human resources staff.  In other cases, managers may wish to address the issue after the employee has resigned.
  3. AVOID EMOTION. Do not reflect any anger or malice toward the employee; rather, treat the notice of the resignation professionally.
  4. CHOOSE DATE. Decide whether to honor the employee’s choice of last day.  If the employee has selected a last day of work, and there is no reason to suspect foul play or breach of security or other risks, the employer may honor the employee’s choice.  Otherwise, in an at-will employment arrangement, the employer has the right to activate the resignation immediately upon receipt of the resignation letter or at any point thereafter. Any employer that simply does not trust the employee or has other concerns about the employee remaining on the job can offer to pay for the entire last pay period while asking the employee to cease work immediately nonetheless. [If the employee is governed by an employment contract or a collective bargaining agreement, then the terms of the contract will apply].
  5. PAY UP. Determine what outstanding wages, paid time off, sick leave, vacation time or other benefits are owed to the employee, and make arrangements for prompt payment.  Under various state laws, payment of outstanding wages may be due immediately upon the employee’s departure or within a limited period of time thereafter, after which the employer could face stiff penalties.
  6. DON’T DOCK PAY. Do not make partial-day deductions for employees who leave work in the middle of a work day or who appear to leave early on their last day or work less during their final days.
  7. FOLLOW UP WITH BENEFITS. Determine what continuing benefits and options the employee may have, with regard to health insurance, retirement benefits, credit unions, and other employer-sponsored benefit programs.
  8. PROTECT CUSTOMERS. Promptly re-assign another employee to manage all customers (and to supervise all customer contact information) for all customers handled by the resigning employee as soon as the resignation is announced.
  9. ESTABLISH TRANSITION TEAM. Promptly pair the resigning employee with another employee as a “transition team” so that at least one remaining employee spends time working side-by-side with the resigning employee until the resigning employee’s last day.  The resigning employee can be assigned to introduce the remaining employee to his customers during this transition period.
  10. TELL STAFF. Promptly announce to other staff and managers that the resigning employee has tendered his resignation, and ask them to assist with the transition process and any work overflows.  If the resigning employee has no objections, the employer may also wish to invite fellow employees to a goodbye party for the resigning employee after hours at a local restaurant or pub – sending a friendly and favorable final message to the employee.
  11. EXIT INTERVIEW. Hold an exit interview with the employee in which human resources managers and/or other company managers inquire more deeply about the employee’s reasons for resigning.
  12. UPDATE RECORDS. Be sure to get the resigning employee’s forwarding address and contact information, if for no other reason than to forward final paychecks, benefits information, 401(k) quarterly statements, W-2 wage statements and the like.
  13. RESTRICTIVE COVENANTS. Gently remind employee of any restrictive covenants governing limitations on re-employment within any geographical area or within any occupational fields, and any restrictions on customer contact.
  14. FILE RETENTION. Maintain all records pertaining to the employee for payroll, equal employment opportunity, affirmative action and other state and federal reporting purposes.  Records of the employee’s participation in a progressive discipline program or in any internal procedures should also be maintained to the extent that they may become relevant in subsequent litigation.
  15. AVOID DEFAMATION AND PRIVACY TORTS. Do not make – and do not permit managers to make – false, slanderous, or derogatory statements about the resigned employee on company premises or work sites, or in phone calls to prospective employees. Do not permit private or inappropriate materials that may be contained in the employee’s personnel file to be discussed and released for any reason, except under legal advice.

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