Are employees required to give notice when resigning?

Employees are resigning more frequently, with approximately 9% of Australia’s labour force working for a new employer in the past twelve months, according to the Department of Jobs and Small Business. Sometimes an employee handing in their resignation can be a wonderful thing. Other times it can leave an employer ‘in the lurch’ without enough staff on hand, or a key function in the operations left rudderless.

To assist you in avoiding this, it is quite helpful to understand the rules around employee resignation notice periods.

In This Article

Who Must Give Notice?

Only employees who are permanently employed are required to give notice of resignation. This includes either full-time or part-time. If the resignation concerns a casual employee, download our guide on How to understand casual employee entitlements and loadings when it comes to resignation and job abandonment.

If you aren’t sure whether you employee is ‘permanently employed’, check out the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website. It can help you better understand the different types of employment and the relevant entitlements and obligations.

What Is The Employee Resignation Notice Period?

There is no definitive rule for the amount of notice an employee is required to give. Ultimately, it will depend on the award or agreement an employee is covered by. However, as a general rule, the amount of notice will be as follows:

Period of continuous serviceMinimum Notice Period
1 year or less1 Week
More than 1 year – 3 years2 Weeks
More than 3 years – 5 years3 Weeks
More than 5 years4 Weeks

The employment notice period generally starts the day an employee tells their employer that they are resigning.

What If An Employee Does Not Work The Employee Resignation Notice Period?

If the employee notifies an employer that they intend to resign and then subsequently fails to show up for work during their notice period, the employer may be entitled to withhold payment of the amount they would ordinarily earn for the notice period.

Conversely, if the employer notifies the employee that they are not needed for their employee resignation notice period, the employer must still pay the employee the amount they would ordinarily earn for the notice period in lieu.

It is also worth noting that, where an employee works only part of their notice period, then is told by the employer that they are not needed for the remainder of the employee resignation notice period, the employer is required to pay the employee for the full notice period plus the time they worked during such notice period.

Interestingly, ‘Bright HR’ suggests to avoid the headache of poor performance during the notice period, write into employment contracts the proper protocol when it comes to resignation, including designated notice lengths. However, they advise that employers should be smart when it comes to determining notice lengths in a contract. Determine these based on the seniority of the role and the time it may take to fill the position. 

Conclusion

Having an employee resign, particularly on short notice, can be an unpleasant and costly workplace relations issue. There are many pit-falls an employer may face when they are not experienced in dealing with such matters. In dealing with an employee’s accrued entitlements after a resignation, there is no prescriptive formula that can be followed for every employee. It makes this area especially problematic to say the least!

Need Specialist Help?

At Workplace Wizards, we can help guide you through the process of employee resignation so that it is as smooth as possible, minimising legal risks as we go.

We encourage you to get in touch with us if you’re experiencing difficulties with employee resignations. We can send you our FREE ‘How To Guide’ on navigating ‘Employee Abandonment and Resignation’, and discuss how to be implement our resource pack which includes all the letters and tools you’ll need in the next instance of employee resignation!

Lastly, we offer specialist assistance during these challenging times, tailored to the specific needs of your business. Be sure to contact Mark, one of our experienced consultants, to arrange your no-obligation consultation on 0458 644 469 or mark@workplacewizards.com.au.

Mark Ritchie

Mark Ritchie

Mark is passionate about helping Australian businesses efficiently resolve their industrial relations issues. Mark has demonstrated proficiency advising managers, executives and boards of small to medium-sized enterprises, as well as some of Australia’s best-known companies, on both litigious and non-litigious matters.

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