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.

Resignation explained

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 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.

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 line with the terms of your contract, your employer must accept your resignation
  • Grievance procedures

If you're 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're 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.

Your benefits if you resign

Any benefits you receive may be delayed for up to 26 weeks if you voluntarily quit without good reason. 

If you are claiming constructive dismissal, tell your local Jobs and Benefits office.

If you don’t qualify for Job Seeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit under normal rules, you may be able to claim a hardship payment, based on your individual circumstances.

For more details, contact your local Jobs and Benefits office.

Pension schemes

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.

Pay for holidays you haven't taken

When you leave your job, you should get paid for any unused statutory minimum holiday allowance (for instance 5.6 weeks), although your contract may say that you lose untaken contractual holidays (anything over 5.6 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.

Where you can get help

The Labour Relations Agency (LRA) and Advice NI offer free, confidential and impartial advice on all employment rights issues for residents of Northern Ireland.

If you are a member of a trade union, you can get help, advice and support from them.

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