Workers Leaving: The Basics


An employee might leave your employment for a number of reasons.

They may resign or retire, or you may dismiss them because of redundancy or their poor performance. Sadly it could even be that they die while in your employment.

For each of these reasons you need to consider a number of issues, including the need to follow a proper dismissal procedure, giving notice periods, writing references and calculating final pay.

Every business has a slightly different way of dealing with workers leaving. Some matters are legal requirements, while others are simply a question of good practice.

This guide explains how to prepare for ending a person’s employment and how to make the process as smooth as possible.

The process to follow when a worker leaves

It is important to have a set procedure in place to help you when a person’s employment ends for whatever reason.

Confirmation of leaving

Confirm with the employee:

For resignations, you should get written confirmation from the employee that they do actually intend to resign and the date of their resignation. This will help clarify when their notice period begins.

For more information, see our guide on when an employee resigns.


Employees who have worked for you continuously for a year or more are entitled to request a written statement of reasons for their dismissal. You must provide the written statement within 14 days of the request.

It’s good practice to provide one even if they don’t request it. The reasons for dismissal you give should be as detailed as possible.

Where employees are pregnant or on statutory maternity/adoption leave, you must provide the statement (even if not requested) regardless of their length of service.


If the leaver is to be replaced, organise a handover timetable during the notice period so the replacement employee taking over their work knows what is involved.

Where appropriate, agree with the employee the terms of an announcement to other staff about their departure.

Working out final payments

You will need to work out:

  • how much pay is due, including pay for any untaken holiday
  • what should be deducted from their final pay, eg a low-interest loan repayment
  • whether any payment/contribution systems should be changed

For more information on making final payments, see nibusinessinfo’s page on calculating final pay in our guide on pay – an overview of obligations.

Exit interviews

Conduct a formal exit interview with the employee before they leave to discuss reasons for leaving or get feedback on how the business could be improved. For more on exit interviews, see nibusinessinfo’s page on conducting exit interviews in their guide on when an employee resigns.


The law doesn’t generally require you to give a departing employee a reference unless stated otherwise in their contract, but it is good practice to ask whether they want one. See the page in this guide on providing references.

Retrieving company property

This includes retrieving security passes, uniforms, laptops, etc. You may want to consider changing computer codes and passwords.

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