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Posted on June 9, 2017
Updated on February 3, 2021
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Writing a Resignation Letter - Tips, Samples and Templates

This article provides free templates and tips for writing resignation letters. 

Why is Writing a Good Resignation Letter Important?

Good resignation letters are important for individuals and employers so that the process of leaving a job is properly and professionally managed. Organisations and individuals are liable to dispute or penalty if this process is not handled properly. A resignation letter, if written correctly, should be followed by a resignation acceptance letter from the employer. They are therefore vital a mechanism for handling the resignation and leaving process properly. 

Following these simple rules will help you whether you are resigning, or managing the acceptance of the departure of an employee:

  1. First, it is advisable to keep letters of resignation and resignation acceptance positive. Keeping resignation letters positive can be important to avoid the risk of libel or defamation, which carry potential legal liabilities for employee and employer. A positive departure will also increase the likelihood of obtaining a positive reference. Try to behave with compassion and humanity, even if the other side doesn't. See the  Love and Spirituality page for further information on compassion and ethics in corporations and the workplace.
  2. It is advisable to give verbal notification to the line manager or immediate supervisor first before handing in a formal confirmation of your resignation to HR. Failing to follow-up with a written confirmation could result in losing certain rights, and being dismissed without notice due to failing to show up for work, on the basis that a formal resignation was not received.

Writing a Resignation Letter

Certain contracts of employment state how your notice should be given - particularly how it's given and to whom - if your contract states a procedure for resignation take note accordingly.

Format: Resignation letters should be printed or hand-written (either is acceptable) on a headed note-paper or a sheet of paper showing your home address (normally positioned top-right corner or top-centre). 

Means of delivery: Resignation letters should ideally be delivered by post or by hand but it has become increasingly common to send them by email. Importantly, once the letter has been sent off ensure that you request a confirmation that the other side has received your letter. Similarly, as mentioned above if you resign verbally (assuming you do not wish later to withdraw it) you must confirm the resignation in writing.

How Should a Resignation Letter Look?

  • Top-left of the page: Insert the name, title, organization and address of your line manager. This letter should not contain the name of your foreman, team-leader, supervisor or shift supervisor unless they are formally responsible for managing recruitment and resignations. If there is any doubt as to whom to address your resignation letter to (particularly in small companies this can sometimes be unclear) check with a senior manager, director, HR/Personnel Manager or even the CEO's assistant.
  • Top-left (below the manager's address): Insert the date here. Generally, employers will deem the effective date of resignation to be the date shown on the resignation letter. However, in other situations, employers can regard notice of resignation effective from the date they receive the letter. Therefore, it is important to clarify in the letter body what date is regarded as the formal leaving date.
  • Starting your letter: Address the person receiving the letter with Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms/Miss (surname), or Dear (first name). This may depend on how you usually speak to your boss - in all but the most traditional and formal organizations first name terms are quite acceptable. 
  • Letter Body: 
  1. Here, clarity and simplicity are important. It is not advisable to use a resignation letter as a means of telling an employer about his/her faults or critiquing an organisation as a whole. Some organisations decide to hold exit interviews which are a more appropriate place to do provide such feedback.
  2. State the date that you regard to be your leaving date, calculated by adding your contractual notice period. It is advisable to revisit the employment contract when figuring out the contractual notice period. 
  3. Then, state your preparedness to work your full notice period. This is preferable as asking to leave sooner will reduce your chances of receiving a settlement payment in lieu of notice, should it be offered. This is when employers stipulate an earlier leaving date than required by your contractual notice period. In this case, the employer must pay the former employee for the notice period. However, in some jobs, particularly business sales and management positions, resigning employees are often not required to serve their notice period. In these cases, many employers have a policy to release resigning (or otherwise terminated) employees immediately to minimise potential disruption or subversion. Below you can find resignation letter templates for both scenarios. Again, the employment contract and company/organisational policy which should be employed as the primary sources of information regarding an employees resignation.



Sample Resignation Letter Template - (when prepared to work your notice period)

Your Name, Position, Organisation Name and Address (each on a separate line)

Date

Dear (line manager name - eg., Mr Smith, or first name if appropriate)

Please accept this as formal notice of my resignation from the position of (your job title and site/department/division as applicable), with effect from (normally date of the letter or receipt of letter - check your contract - if in doubt refer to the date of the letter).

In accordance with my contract of employment, I am happy to continue to work until (the date that your employment ceases according to the notice period, calculated from your stated effective date of resignation).

Optional: While I believe that I am moving for good reasons, I am sorry to leave, and I thank you for your support during my time with the company, which I have found enjoyable and fulfilling.

If applicable: Please let me know the arrangements for handing back equipment, company car, etc, and handing over outstanding work and responsibilities.

Yours sincerely/Best wishes,

Your name



Sample Resignation Letter Template - (when not able, or firmly do not wish to work your notice period)


Name, Position, Organisation Name and Address (each on a separate line)

Date

Dear (line manager name - eg., Mr Smith, or first name if appropriate)

Please accept this as formal notice of my resignation from the position of (your job title and site/department/division as applicable), with effect from (normally date of the letter or receipt of letter - check your contract - if in doubt refer to the date of the letter).

I realise that my contract of employment requires me to work until (the date that your employment ceases according to notice period, calculated from your stated effective date of resignation), however, I'd be grateful to be released earlier on (date that you actually need to leave), and will assume that this is acceptable unless you informed otherwise.

Optional: While I believe that I am moving for good reasons, I am sorry to leave, and I thank you for your support during my time with the company, which I have found enjoyable and fulfilling.

If applicable: Please let me know the arrangements for handing back equipment, company car, etc, and handing over outstanding work and responsibilities.

Yours sincerely/Best wishes,

Your name

Note. These tips and samples use spellings based on UK English common form, for example, 'recognise', 'organise', 'specialise', whereas US English favours the 'ize' spelling. For these and any other spellings subject to regional variation, change the spelling to suit your situation.


Writing a Retirement Letter

Similarly, notifying or reminding an employer about an upcoming retirement should be done through a formal retirement letter. Yet, oftentimes it is the case that the employer puts this into motion as opposed to the employee. It is therefore advisable to review the employment contract and company policy. This article provides an outline of some general principals of writing retirement letters, followed by a sample template.

Format: Again, write using your home address or headed notepaper. Write to your line manager, with a copy to your HR or Personnel department or equivalent. If in doubt about policy and process refer to your contract of employment and contact your local government employment office. You should give notice according to your contract of employment.

Ensuring a smooth retirement process: Under any circumstances, it is highly recommended that detailed, open, recorded discussion takes place between employer and employee at least six months before the employee's 'default' retirement date, so that mutual positions and intentions can be understood and agreed. E Employees wishing to retire are unlikely to be able later to withdraw this resignation unless the employer decides otherwise.

Your rights

The retirement process should happen in accordance with the Age Discrimination Regulations 2006, superseded by the Equality Act 2010 (UK and similar legislation across Europe), which forbids employers from enforcing retirement before the 'default' (UK) statutory age of 65 years unless the employer can satisfy the requirements of the 'objective justification' contained in the regulations (evidence that the early retirement is appropriate and legitimate for the organisational context and aims). The regulations also require employers to give at least six months' notice of retirement to people retiring and to follow certain procedures within this process. Please note that employees must usually give at least three months' notice in writing to their employers of their wish to work beyond their expected retirement date.

See Age Discrimination and Equality for further information.



Sample Retirement Letter Template

Name, Position, Organisation Name and Address (each on a separate line)

Date

Dear (line manager name - eg., Mr Smith, or first name if appropriate)

Please accept this as formal notice of my retirement due on (date of retirement). I'll, therefore, be leaving my position of (your job title and site/department/division as applicable) as of that date.

Optional: I'll be sorry to leave, and I thank you for your support during my time with the company, which I have found enjoyable and fulfilling.

Please let me know the arrangements for handing back equipment, company car, etc, and handing over outstanding work and responsibilities.

Yours sincerely/Best wishes,

Your name



How to Respond to or Accept Resignation Letters 

Reasons for Resignations

Considering the reasons for employees' resignation can be important before accepting the resignation. Reasons can include:

  1. Feelings of dissatisfaction or frustration e.g. "a cry for help
  2. A technique to achieve a pay rise, an attempt to win promotion or improvement in conditions. 
  3. The employee was approached by a competitor or head-hunter
  4. Illness and work-related or domestic stresses (find more information on stress in the work environment here).
  5. Resignation is a result of an argument or quarrel 
This list highlights how the reasons for resignations are complex and nuanced indicating the importance of assessing the root cause of an employees resignation before accepting it as this could shed light on wider-ranging organisational issues which should be addressed. See  Conflict resolution and trust for more information on overcoming organisational issues.  Approaching employee's who have resigned with a Compassionate stance can be a useful tool when wanting to assess the reasons.

Formalities for Receiving and Accepting Resignations

The manager should notify other departments as required by the organisation's procedures, typically HR/Personnel, and usually the line boss. After having assessed potential reasons for the resignation managers must decide whether or not to accept the resignation letter. Any further action should be taken in line with the organisation's formal policy around accepting the resignation

Formating the resignation acceptance letter: Print the resignation acceptance letter on your organization's letterhead. It is advised to send a resignation acceptance by post or give it by hand. Importantly, accepting resignation letters verbally is not advised under any circumstances.

The below sample template is a general example of how resignation letters can be accepted. Generally, it is advisable to write acceptance of resignation letters with a positive tone. Any upcoming issues can always be discussed during an exit interview.



Sample Resignation Acceptance Letter Template (when required to work out their notice according to contract)

It is advised to check the correct policy and procedures with, and seek approval from, the HR department (or equivalent) before deciding and taking action about resignation acceptance.

Name and Address of the person who has resigned here

Date

Dear (name - Mr Smith, or first name if appropriate)

Your resignation from the position of (job title and site/department/division as applicable), effective from (date of effective resignation which should be confirmed with the HR department or equivalent), is accepted.

According to your contract of employment, you will work until (date that employment ceases according to notice period, calculated from stated effective date of resignation - and agreed with HR department or equivalent).

Optional: While working your period of notice you will obviously continue to be subject to your conditions of employment, and I would be grateful for you to maintain your normal high level of commitment to your job up to the time you leave.

(Insert specific instructions relating to leaving procedures, eg., return of equipment, company car, completion of expenses, final pay details, etc.)

If applicable: Insert details of exit interview date, time, venue and interviewer

Optional, and generally recommended unless there are disciplinary implications: I thank you for your efforts and contribution during your time with us, and I wish you all the best for the future.

Also optional: I am happy to provide a reference if required.

Yours sincerely/Best wishes,

Your name


Sample Resignation Acceptance Letter Template (when not required to work out their notice according to contract)

This situation commonly applies to sales and management jobs, and particularly when the person resigning plans to join a competitor, or cannot be relied on to continue to work in a committed way in the interests of the employer. Again, it is advised to check the correct policy and procedures with, and seek approval from, the HR department (or equivalent) before deciding and taking action about resignation acceptance.


Name and Address of the person who has resigned here

Date

Dear (name - Mr Smith, or first name if appropriate)

Your resignation from the position of (job title and site/department/division as applicable), effective from (date of effective resignation which should be confirmed with HR department or equivalent), is accepted.

Although your contract of employment provides that you should work until (date employment theoretically ceases according to notice period, calculated from stated effective date of resignation - confirmed by HR department or equivalent), your employment will cease on (date of actual termination), and you will be paid in lieu of notice up to (contractual date of termination, or any other date that you might negotiate - sooner or later - with the resigning person).

(Insert specific instructions relating to leaving procedures, eg., return of equipment, company car, completion of expenses, expenses float, final pay details, etc.)

If applicable: Insert details of exit interview date, time, venue and interviewer

Optional, and generally recommended unless there are disciplinary implications: I thank you for your efforts and contribution during your time with us, and I wish you all the best for the future.

Also optional: I am happy to provide a reference if required.

Yours sincerely/Best wishes,

Your name


 Withdrawing a Resignation

Despite this occurring only on very rare occasions sometimes people may choose to withdraw their resignation due to a change in circumstance. Here are a few important factors to consider when wanting to withdraw a resignation:

  • How long ago was the formal resignation submitted?
  • Has the formal notice period passed?
  • What are the reasons for wanting to withdraw the resignation? 
  • How could this best be explained to the employer?

Below are two sample templates of a resignation withdrawal letter. These should be adapted based on personal circumstances.


Resignation Withdrawal Letter Example (soon after resigning)

(Name, address, and date)

Dear...........

I wish to withdraw my resignation of (date).

I hope that you are happy for me to carry on in my job as normal, and I will assume this is so unless you notify me otherwise.

Thank you in anticipation of your understanding, and apologise for any inconvenience I may have caused.

Yours sincerely/Best wishes,

Your name


In the above example, it may be advisable to elaborate on the reasons for wanting to withdraw the resignation, depending on the circumstances.

If the situation is more complex, and/or more than a quarter of the notice period has passed, then the below letter may be more appropriate.


Resignation withdrawal letter example (significantly after resigning)

(Name, address, and date)

Dear...........

I realise that various processes are now underway for me to leave the organisation since I resigned on (date).

My circumstances and therefore my feelings have changed (due to.....), and if possible I would now like to withdraw my resignation.

I hope that I can continue in my job as normal, although I appreciate matters may not be that simple, and I await your response.

Thank you in anticipation of your understanding and apologise for any inconvenience I may have caused.

Yours sincerely/Best wishes,

Your name


Further Advice on Withdrawing a Resignation

A copy of this letter should be sent to all the relevant people (i.e HR or personnel department, your line boss, and the up-line decision-maker if appropriate). Further, it may be appropriate to follow-up the letter by phone or face-to-face discussion. 

It is important to consider that contractual issues could arise when the resignation is withdrawn after a period of more than a few days. If the organization has already begun to make other arrangements to fill the job, it may cause difficulties to reverse this process. As this may be the first time that the organisation is dealing with someone withdrawing their resignation patience and flexibility may be required. 


See also

Other useful free information and easy guides to personal and organisational development, plus other writing techniques, templates, samples and examples:

And on a lighter note, an example of an amusing letter: