Do you need a resignation letter? (And how do you write one?)

You’ve been put through your paces during the interview and been offered the job but how do you actually resign?

The way you inform your line manager that you’re leaving is actually quite important and whilst you might assume you just need to write a letter, things have changed. The formal resignation letter is a pretty outdated approach and might not be needed at all. But if it is, and you only give verbal notice, you would be in breach of your contract which can cause a myriad of problems, especially if you ever take your employer to a tribunal.

Do you need a resignation letter?

Before you do anything else, you need to find out if you need to give written notice. To find this out, your first port of call is your employment contract. This should not only tell you how to resign (verbally, written or both) but also the notice period you need to give and how you’ll be paid when leaving.

Legally, if you’ve been in your job for more than a month, you need to give at least two weeks notice. The standard notice period is one month but many contracts are three months.

Even if you don’t contractually need to give written notice, you may wish to do so if you have reason to believe it may be useful evidence in an employment tribunal.

If you’re going to submit a resignation letter, it can be hard to know what to include, how formal to be and how to hand it in. Let’s start with what to write.

How to write your resignation letter

The most important thing is to keep it brief and stick to the facts. If you want to give more reasoning behind your decision to leave, or your company want more information, it’s best to share that verbally. This letter will stay on your personal file so keep to the point.

Introduction: Start by addressing the reason for the letter and stating that you are leaving and wish to terminate your contract.

Dear [Name of line manager],

Please accept this letter as formal resignation from my position as [insert job title here] for [insert company name here], effective as of the date of this letter, [insert date of letter here].

Middle: This is where you outline your understanding of your notice period and contractual elements that result from your resignation.

It is my understanding that I am contractually obliged to give a notice period of [insert notice period in days], and as such expect my last working day to be [insert last date of employment]. I would appreciate it if you could confirm this in writing on receipt of this letter.

End: It’s always a good idea not burn any bridges so take this opportunity to say thank you on paper and during the discussion.

I would like to take this moment to thank you for your support and mentorship, as well as the company as a whole. I have enjoyed my time at [insert company name here] and appreciate the opportunities I’ve had to advance my career.

I am happy to discuss any elements of my resignation in person with you and wish you and the business continued success.

Kind regards,

[insert your name here]

Regardless of the reasons you’re leaving this job, I highly recommend arranging a meeting with your line manager where you hand them the letter first, and then verbally let them know that you’re resigning. This gives your boss the chance to discuss it with you and for you to both have a conversation about it.

In many instances, resigning is a great opportunity to discuss your contribution to the company and review all you’ve achieved during your time there. For your line manager, while they might be sad that you’re leaving and they have to find a suitable replacement , they may also feel a sense of pride – especially if they’ve nurtured you in your career and helped you develop to the next level.

It’s also important to remember that the way you resign can also help you maintain a good relationship with your past employer. Something that in the future could become very useful.

If you need any further advice on resigning or your employment rights and contract, the government recommend reaching out to Acas via their free helpline.

Jen Smith coaches entrepreneurs in social media.

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