What you need to know
- Before you resign, it's important to know your rights and responsibilities to yourself and your employer.
- There are some critical elements to include in your resignation letter before submitting.
- How and when you submit your resignation letter is important to plan.
A resignation letter is an important part of the resignation process. Not only is it a legal requirement, it is a formalised method of announcing your intention to leave the company, and is an expectation all employees are required to fulfil under Australian law.
Learning how to write a resignation letter may seem like one more hurdle to cross before you can move onto the next stage of your career, but as a document that’s likely to remain on your employment file for years to come, it’s important to get it right.
Before you resign, know your rights and responsibilities
At its heart, a resignation is a termination of your employment contract with your company. As such, it’s important to know your rights and responsibilities under Australian law, and under your individual work contract.
Under Australian law
All employment contracts within Australia should include a notice period. This is usually a short paragraph outlining employees’ contractual obligation to provide a notice period, how long the notice period needs to be, and how employees need to provide this.
It may also outline how employees should go about handing in their resignation.
Note that under Australian law, resignation periods begin the day after employees hand in their notice until their last day on the job.
Employers cannot legally reject a resignation, nor are they required to accept or approve it.
Under your employment contract
If you do not provide adequate notice, your employer may be able to withhold your final pay.
If your employment contract sets out the conditions you need to submit your resignation, it’s important you follow it.
If they seem unreasonable, it may be worth getting in touch with a solicitor to review the legalities of your contract and what your options may be.
However, if your contract does not set out any expectations, it is worth getting in touch with the Australian Fair Work Ombudsman to confirm the minimum required notice you must provide in order to ensure smooth transition.
How to write a resignation letter
Learning how to write a resignation letter is an important skill.
A resignation letter does not have to be a complicated document. In fact, the more succinct, the better.
Be sure to include:
- The date you’re writing your letter
- Address to the appropriate person
- Explain your intent to resign and the last day of employment
- Offer your assistance to train your replacement
- Finish on a positive note
The key to writing a professional resignation letter is to remain diplomatic.
Don’t turn your resignation letter into a list of grievances. You may want to work for the company again at some stage, and at the very least, you may need your employer to provide a reference for you. Keep your letter positive and tactful.
Bear in mind, your resignation letter should follow up to a face-to-face meeting with your manager. So, draft the main points of your letter in advance but wait until you have had a conversation with your manager to fine-tune the wording so that it reflects the main points of your conversation.
When and how to submit your resignation letter
It’s not always easy to have this conversation to let your supervisor know you’re moving on, but it’s important to do so in a professional manner. You never know who they know, if you’ll want them to provide a reference, or when you’ll run into them again down the line, so keep it as positive as you can.
It may feel awkward, but if you can, it’s best to tell your supervisor the news in person.
We recommend organising a one-on-one sit-down meeting with your manager. If you feel that they may not take the news well, perhaps schedule it for a Friday afternoon so they have the weekend to reflect.
How to tell your boss you’re quitting
There are certain things you should mention when discussing your resignation with your manager or supervisor.
Remember to keep the conversation positive if you can, or neutral at the very least. You don’t want to burn any bridges.
- Tell them you’re resigning and the date you intend to be your final day.
- If you feel it’s appropriate, tell them why you’re leaving.
- Thank them for the opportunities they provided.
- Offer to help with the transition.
Once you’ve had your conversation, it’s good practice to follow it up with an email summarising the points you discussed in your meeting. If you did choose to hand in the physical copy of your letter, you may want to provide an electronic copy also.
Frequently asked questions about resignation letters
No. Your employer is responsible for any documentation and paperwork should you be dismissed or your role be made redundant.
The short answer is yes. The long answer is it’s best to hand in a physical copy of your resignation letter to your supervisor or HR as well as an electronic copy.
Make sure it’s formatted as PDF so it cannot be edited by someone else.
No. Of course, you may want to include a sentence or two, but depending on the circumstances, it may be advisable to leave it out all together.
If you’re unsure of what is required from your resignation letter, it’s best to get in touch with the Fair Work Ombudsman as a first port-of-call. It is their responsibility to provide practical advice and assistance regarding your individual circumstances.
Resignation letter template example
Dear (Manager’s name)
Please accept this letter as formal notification of my resignation from (Company name). My last day with the company will be (date).
Before I leave, I will ensure that all my projects are completed as far as possible, and I am happy to assist in any way to ensure a smooth handover to my replacement.
I would like to thank you for the opportunity to work at (company) for (years of service). During this time I have thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere within the team and I will miss our interactions.
While I am excited by the new opportunities that I will be pursuing, I will always remember my time at (company name) with affection. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need further information after I leave, and I would be delighted if you stay in touch.
(Your printed name)