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Leaving employment

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This section deals with the following:

  • Resignation
  • Notice periods (employer and employee)
  • Exit interviews
  • Retirement

For conduct dismissals, see Disciplinary matters.

For redundancy dismissals, see Restructuring and redundancy.

Resignation

Once an employee has given written notice of resignation, there are practical issues that need to be considered. You should send a letter acknowledging the resignation. The letter should include:

  • details of final pay, and when it will be paid and how
  • details of outstanding annual leave or leave owed
  • information on returning company property
  • arrangements during the notice period
  • a thank you for the employee’s service.

Employee notice period

If an employee resigns, they must give the period of notice stated in the written statement of terms and conditions of employment.

Employer notice period

Where an employer terminates employment (for example, in the case of redundancy), the employee is entitled to statutory notice or contractual notice, whichever is higher.

Statutory notice is:

  • one week’s notice if the employee has been employed by the employer continuously for one month or more, but for less than two years
  • two weeks’ notice if the employee has been with the employer for two years or more. This entitlement increases by one week per full year of service up to a maximum of 12 weeks.

If the employee’s contractual notice (that is, the notice period that is stated in the written terms and conditions of employment) is higher than statutory notice, then the employee must be given contractual notice.

Exceptions

There are two exceptions to the above provisions, where no notice need be given:

  • When a contract expires at the end of its fixed term (unless there are contractual provisions allowing for notice)
  • Where an employee is dismissed for gross misconduct

Exit interviews

Exit interviews represent one of the most direct routes for finding out employees' views. The information obtained can form the basis for making improvements in employee retention in the future. Exit interviews should ideally be conducted by a person other than the employee’s line manager.

Try to make the exit interview positive so that the leaving employee may become an ambassador for your charity.

You should ask open questions that encourage honest and considered responses, while avoiding leading and limiting questions.

Areas to cover might include:

  • reasons for leaving
  • the work itself - the extent to which the employee found the work interesting and was able to develop knowledge and skills
  • relationships - with others including the manager and team members
  • the manager - the extent to which the manager set clear tasks/objectives, gave developmental feedback and supported where appropriate
  • the working environment and culture - physical working conditions, office equipment, communication from senior managers
  • overall view of the organisation as a place to work.

Retirement

Under current UK employment law, it is generally no longer possible for an employer to ‘retire’ an employee. This applies, even where you no longer need the job (in which case, it would potentially be a redundancy situation rather than a retirement).

Increasing age should not be considered to automatically equate to a diminished ability to do the job. However, if an older employee is not capable of undertaking the work to your satisfaction, you will need to manage the situation in the same way as for other employees. There may be adjustments to the job that you could make, which would enable the employee to do the job well. If there are no adjustments that you could make and if performance is not at a reasonable standard, you should sensitively follow performance management processes. See ‘dealing with underperformance.’ This can be a delicate area and you are advised to take human resources or legal advice.

An employee can choose to retire, of course, and this is in effect a resignation. No pressure should be placed on employees to retire at a certain age – this would be unlawful age discrimination.

ACAS has issued an advisory booklet, called Working without the default retirement age – Guidance for employers (pdf, 344KB), which provides advice for employers on managing older workers. The guidance includes a format for having workplace discussions with staff, regardless of age, about their aims, aspirations and intentions.

Further resources

Page last edited Jun 28, 2018

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