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The Human Resources Institute of New Zealand

Human Resources Institute of New Zealand (HRINZ) is the professional body for those involved in Human Resource Management and the development of people.

HRINZ represents the interests of 3,000+ individual members who make up around 45% of the known New Zealand HR market. Read More

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Resignations & Exit Interviews

There may be many reasons why an employee resigns their employment. These range from having secured another job to leaving to have an overseas experience, undertake training or tertiary study, to 'jumping ship' to prevent dismissal.

When an employee offers their resignation it is important to handle the acceptance of that resignation with care. If the resignation is offered in a 'heat of the moment' situation, then a Save'cool down' period of at least 24 hours should be considered before any acceptance, either formal or informal, is made. This is to provide the employee with an opportunity to 'sleep' on their decision and to rescind the resignation. Accepting a 'heat of the moment' resignation, particularly if given while you are undertaking an investigation into either alleged misconduct or poor performance situation, may expose your organisation to a claim of constructive dismissal if handled incorrectly.

Once a resignation has been accepted there is no obligation for an employer to agree to the withdrawal of the resignation. However, if the employee does have a change of heart, and you have not yet replaced or commenced advertising for a replacement, consideration can be given to agreeing for the resignation to be withdrawn. You will need to consider factors around why there has been a change of heart and the likelihood of the employee not being settled in the position if they remain.

It is also important to collect information from employees who have resigned. Undertaking an exit interview can identify areas that you can improve to help retain other staff. An exit interview should be offered to all employees who have resigned. This interview can be carried out by the employee’s immediate manager, HR, or by providing the employee a self-addressed employee form for them to fill out on their own and send back to you.

Exit interviews can identify both positive and negative reasons for departure: relationship with supervisors, their perception of pay, training, career opportunities and performance appraisal systems. They should also seek to gain the departing employees views on the working conditions offered by your organisation and ask for some suggestions for improvement. If you do collect exit interview information, then ensure that there is a process in place for appropriate and timely follow-up action to be taken on that feedback otherwise there is little value in collecting the information.

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Disclaimer: This information has been written for and submitted to HRINZ for publication and has been published in good faith for the general information of HRINZ Members of the Institute. HRINZ accepts no legal responsibility for the contents of the Knowledge Base and appropriate professional advice and assistance should be sought in particular cases.

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