Resigning and quitting

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Unhappy man at work, leaning on a wall. Resigning and quitting.It's important to resign or quit in the best possible way. The way you handle things might affect your future job prospects. You should also know your rights and entitlements. 

Here are six steps to getting your resignation right:

> 1. Think about your reasons
2. Get some advice
> 3. Give the right notice
> 4. Be polite about it
> 5. Put it in writing
> 6. Start looking for another job

1. Think about your reasons

People resign or quit for lots of reasons. Some reasons might include:

  • Not being happy with the job you have
  • Feeling unsafe at work
  • Not being paid enough
  • Being offered another job somewhere else
  • Going on to do fulltime study
  • Leaving town to travel

It's a good idea to weigh up your options. If you're leaving because of a situation at work, there might be something you can do to change that situation instead of quitting.

If you're quitting because you feel unsafe or you're being bullied, you could try talking to someone about it. Check out our Problems in the Workplace pages for advice on things like bullying, violence, safety and discrimination.

If you're quitting because you don't think you're being paid enough, you could try talking to someone first. Check out our Getting Paid the Right Amount page for more info about minimum wages.

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2. Get some advice

If you have concerns about the way your employer is behaving, or you just have questions about resigning, the organisations below can help. They can also help if you've been fired from your job or made redundant. 

  • JobWatch Victoria - A community legal centre giving free advice for workers in Victoria. Call them on 9662 1933 (Melbourne) or 1800 331 617 (non-Metro).
  • Fair Work Ombudsman - A federal government organisation giving free advice and help with workplace rights. Call them on 13 13 94.
  • Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) - The national union body working for Australian workers' rights. Call them on 9664 7333.

You should also check out our What to do if you get sacked page or our Unfair dismissal and unlawful termination page for more advice. 

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3. Give the right notice

"Giving notice" means telling your employer ahead of time that you plan to stop working for them. It's a good idea because:

  • You can work a little bit longer and pay the bills while looking for a new job
  • It gives your employer time to find someone to replace you
  • You'll leave the job on good terms and be able ask for help in the future (for example, using them as a referee)

When you resign, you have to give your employer the right amount of notice. If you don't, your employer may be allowed to withhold money or entitlements.

For example:

  • They might only have to pay you for some of the time you've already worked (or none at all) 
  • They might not have to pay you for any leave you've earned but not taken yet

How much notice do you need to give?

There are a couple of ways to work out how much notice to give:

  • It might be written in your contract (if you have one) 
  • It's usually okay to give notice equal to your pay period (for example, if you're paid monthly you should give a month's notice).

Your employer doesn't have to let you work during your notice period. They do have to pay for that time, though. For example, if you gave two weeks' notice they'd have to pay you for two weeks' work when your notice period is over.

If you're unsure how much notice to give, talk to one of the organisations listed in "Get some advice" above.

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4. Be polite about it

Don't make a big fuss about your resignation. And definitely don't just stop showing up for work.

There are some good reasons for this:

  • You don't want to to give your employer a reason to not pay you what you're owed 
  • They might help you find a new job 
  • They're more likely to agree to be your referee

Your employer might be the reason you want to quit. They might behave badly when you tell them you're leaving. It's still a good idea to resist the urge to behave badly in response. You're more likely to get what you deserve.

If you have problems with the way your employer behaves when you resign, talk to one of the organisations listed in "Get some advice" above.

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5. Put it in writing

It's a good idea to put your resignation in writing. Keep a copy so you can prove you gave the right notice.

For tips on how to write a resignation letter, check out our How to write a resignation letter page.

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6. Start looking for another job

Once you've handed in your resignation, if you haven't already got a new job lined up, you may be in the market for one. 

Check out our How to find a job and Applying for jobs pages for advice on scoring yourself a brand new job.

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