Resigning from a job
You can always choose to leave your job by resigning. Find out about the things you should think about before resigning, what to do when you resign and your rights and obligations to your employer.
What is resignation?
Handing in your resignation, either verbally or in writing, is a clear statement by you to your employer that you're going to leave your job.
Threatening to leave, or saying you're looking for another job, isn't the same as formally resigning. Saying 'I quit!' in the heat of an argument with your employer may be taken as a proper resignation, so be cautious in what you say. If you do resign in the heat of the moment but didn't mean it, tell your employer quickly.
Before handing in your resignation, think carefully about why you're doing it and whether it's the right thing to do.
If you're leaving because of problems at work, or a disagreement with your boss, ask yourself if these problems could be sorted out through your company's standard grievance procedure? Think about how you will manage without your wages, and how easy it will be to find another job.
How do you resign?
You should make it clear to your employer that you're formally resigning. You can give your resignation verbally, unless your contract of employment says it must be written. However, it's always a good idea to put it in writing, saying
- how much notice you are giving
- what your last day will be
Give your employer the right amount of notice. By law, you must give one week's notice if you've worked for your employer for a month or more. Your contract may demand longer.
If you want to explain your reasons for resigning, putting it in writing will make it easier to organise your thoughts, but when you resign, it is important to remember that:
- your resignation can't be taken back, unless your contract allows it, or your employer agrees
- you will get your final pay on your normal pay day unless your contract says differently - you do not have the right to ask for it any earlier
- as long as you have given notice in accordance with the terms of your contract, your employer must accept your resignation
What if you are forced to resign against your will?
If you feel that you have to resign, because of dangerous working conditions or your boss's behaviour, you may be able to claim constructive dismissal.
If you are thinking about claiming constructive dismissal, you should raise the problem as a grievance before you resign. If you don't, an Industrial Tribunal can refuse to hear your constructive dismissal claim or reduce the amount of compensation you receive. Constructive dismissal is, however, not always easy to prove. So be careful and take advice.
What are your benefits if you resign?
Your Jobs and Benefits Office can delay your Jobseeker's Allowance for up to 26 weeks if you've voluntarily quit without good reason. If you are claiming constructive dismissal, make sure they know. If you cannot claim Jobseeker's Allowance, you may still be able to claim a hardship payment, which is a reduced amount of Jobseeker's Allowance.
If you have a personal pension plan, you can take it with you if you change jobs. If you were paying into a company scheme, you should be able to get a statement of the current value of your pension fund. You may be able to transfer this to another scheme, or into a personal pension plan.
What about being paid for holidays you haven't taken?
When you leave your job, you should get paid for any unused legal minimum holiday allowance (for instance 4.8 weeks), although your contract may say that you lose untaken contractual holidays (anything over 4.8 weeks for example). If you've taken more leave than you have earned, your employer can't normally take the money from your final pay unless it's been agreed beforehand.
Getting your P45
When you stop working for an employer, they will normally give you a P45 form. This is a record of the pay you have earned and the tax that's been paid so far in the tax year. You'll need a P45 form to give to your new employer.
What should you do next?
If you are thinking about leaving, think carefully about the reasons why. Are they problems that can be sorted out? If you feel you are being forced out of your job, read the article on constructive dismissal.
Check your contract or company handbook to find out how much notice you have to give, and whether it must be in writing.
Where can you get help?
The Labour Relations Agency (LRA) offers free, confidential and impartial advice on all employment rights issues for residents of Northern Ireland. You can contact the LRA on 028 9032 1442 from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm Monday to Friday.
Your local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) can provide free and impartial advice. You can find your local CAB office in the phone book or online.
If you are a member of a trade union, you can get help, advice and support from them.