Handling employee resignation and notice periods in Ireland

Last updated: January 17th, 2023

How to handle employee resignation and notice periods in Ireland

From time to time, an employee resigns to pursue a career outside of your organisation. In most instances, they give full contractual notice of their resignation.

However, an employee occasionally resigns in the heat of the moment. Quitting a job with no notice isn’t ideal for employers but it can happen.

As the majority of resignations are professional in nature, it’s important to handle the situation properly and to know how to manage out notice periods.

What does resignation mean?

Resignation occurs when an employee (in written or verbal form) informs their employer that they’re leaving the organisation.

The employment relationship can end in numerous ways, including:

  • An employee gives their notice of resignation by speaking with you or handing in a letter of resignation.
  • If your organisation ends the contract of employment—that’s a dismissal.
  • When an employee reaches a justifiable contractual retirement age.

A resigning employee will also need to complete a notice period once they’ve informed you of their intention. During this period, you can look to hire a replacement or promote another employee to the role. It’s also worth noting that you can pay the employee if you would prefer that they did not come to work during their notice period. This is called payment in lieu of notice (PILON).

Notice periods in Ireland

Notice periods in Ireland depend on the nature of the employment. The employee’s contract of employment should specify an appropriate notice period and comply with the minimum notice legislation.

There are, however, two key types of notice to keep in mind:

  • Contractual notice: Your organisation can determine the length of contractual notice provided it complies with the minimum notice periods set out in the Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Act 1973. You may want to specify a longer notice period for certain key employees that may be difficult to replace.
  • Statutory notice: the minimum statutory notice periods are set out in the Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Act 1973. The statutory minimum notice period an employer must give to an employee is linked to the employee’s length of service and can be summarised as follows:
Length of Service Minimum Notice
Thirteen weeks to two years One week
Two to five years Two weeks
Five to ten years Four weeks
Ten to fifteen years Six weeks
More than fifteen years Eight weeks

 

What notice does an employee give to the employer?

If an employee has worked at least 13 weeks for your organisation, they must give you at least one week’s notice of their intention to resign.

However, one week’s notice is generally too little time to arrange a replacement. And this is why it’s important to insert an appropriate contractual notice period into your contract of employment to protect your organisation against abrupt employee resignations.

What should you do when an employee resigns?

When an employee notifies you of their intention to resign, you might try to convince them to stay. It’s only natural to want to retain an employee if they’re one of your top performers.

If, however, you accept the resignation, there are several steps to follow:

  • Get it in writing: Written confirmation, which must include the employee’s name, the date, and a signature, is useful for record keeping purposes. You should receive a resignation letter from all employees even if they were only employed for a short period.
  • Respond to the resignation: Acknowledge your acceptance of the resignation with a written and verbal response. You can also send a resignation email with the notice period confirmed.
  • Decide on the notice period: Do you want the employee to work their full notice period? Confirm your decision with the departing employee.
  • Handover pack: A handover pack will come in handy when their replacement arrives.
  • Exit interview: Arrange and conduct an exit interview. This will help you better understand their reasons for resigning and allow you to make improvements where needed.
  • Retrieve business property: Retrieve any important items from the departing employee. These items could include security passes, tools, computers, devices, or their uniform.

You must also arrange the employee’s final wage payment. Failing to do so, even for someone leaving your organisation, can result in a Workplace Relations Commission claim for non-payment of wages.

Lastly, try to end your professional relationship with the employee on a positive note. After all, they may one day return to work for your organisation.

Need more information on resignations and notice periods?

For more details on handling resignations and notice periods, speak to one of our HR experts now on 01 886 0350 or request a callback here.

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Nora Cashe

Peninsula

Nóra studied Law in Griffith College Dublin and qualified as a Barrister in 2008, practising in the area of Criminal law. She is also member of the Irish Employment Law Association.

Nora has extensive experience representing clients at Employment Tribunal hearings, Conciliation / Mediation meetings before both the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court. 

Nóra is a member of the Irish Employment Law Association and engages with the WRC Adjudication Service as part of their stakeholder engagement forum.

Deiric McCann

Genos International Europe

Deiric McCann leads Genos International Europe – The EU division of a world-leading provider of emotional intelligence solutions. 

With over two decades experience at the highest levels of management, Deiric supports clients to develop the resilience, emotional intelligence, psychological safety and engagements of their employees.

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David Begg

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David Begg was appointed Chairperson of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) in January 2021.

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