My employee quit without notice, what now

Navigating Unexpected Employee Resignations: Rights, Responsibilities, and Tips for Employers.

It’s a scenario no employer wants to face: an employee abruptly resigning without providing any notice. This unexpected departure can leave employers grappling with questions about their rights, responsibilities, and how to manage the situation effectively.

According to the AHRI’s Quarterly Australian Work Outlook, overall, the average employee turnover for the 12 months to the end of April 2023 was reported at 12%. 1


What does it mean to quit?

There are a few different terms; it is also referred to as exit, quit, give notice, resignation, conclusion, and departure. For the purpose of this blog we will use “conclusion” to mean both voluntary or involuntary.

Basically conclusion  refers to the voluntary or sometimes involuntary act of when an employer and employee relationship ends. 

This decision is typically communicated to the employer in writing.


Voluntary versus involuntary conclusion.

Voluntary resignation

Employees may choose to resign for various reasons, such as finding a new job opportunity, pay or conditions, pursuing further education, moving location, or addressing personal circumstances.

This is referred to as voluntary resignation and could be one of the following situations:

  • Resignation: an employee may choose to resign from their position.
  • Retirement: employees may retire from their job when they reach the age of retirement or become eligible for retirement benefits.
  • End of Contract/Temporary Position: for employees on a fixed-term contract or in temporary positions, the employment relationship naturally ends when the contract expires.

Involuntary resignation

However, there can be times when an employer may choose to end employment for various reasons such as performance, change in business direction or financial implications, or personal circumstances.

This is referred to as involuntary separation and could be one of the following situations:

  • Termination: an employer may terminate an employee’s contract due to various reasons, including poor performance or violation of company policies.
  • Redundancy: employees may be made redundant due to reasons such as company restructuring, financial difficulties, or a decrease in the demand for certain positions. 
  • Dismissal: similar to termination, dismissal occurs when an employee is let go for serious misconduct or a breach of employment terms.

It’s important to note that the specific circumstances surrounding the end of an employment relationship can vary based on local employment laws and the terms outlined in the employment contract. Employers and employees alike are encouraged to follow proper procedures and adhere to legal requirements when ending an employment relationship.


Let’s take a closer look at terms of employment surrounding the conclusion.

Notice Periods

The national employment standards outline the required notice periods depending on probation and length of employment. These notice periods are usually outlined in employment contracts or relevant policies and procedures. It is possible to negotiate a lesser period of notice and in some instances an employee might quit without notice.

Withholding Wages

Withholding wages should be approached cautiously. Employers generally cannot withhold earned wages unless there are explicit provisions in the employment contract allowing for specific deductions, such as unpaid loans or agreed-upon penalties. Using wage withholding as a punitive measure is often legally questionable and may lead to legal consequences for the employer.

Final Payment

Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the departure, employees are entitled to their final payment. This should include any outstanding wages, accrued leave, and benefits owed to them. Ensure compliance with labor laws by promptly providing the final payment as per the established pay schedule.


Now that we know a little more about the various definitions and the terms around conclusion, how do we manage that situation when an employee simply quits.


Initiate a candid and respectful conversation with the departing employee to understand their reasons for leaving without notice. While emotions may run high, maintaining open communication can provide valuable insights into potential workplace issues that might need addressing. This conversation can also contribute to a smoother transition, even if it is still a quick one. Taking into consideration their reasons for leaving and quickly, there is potential to negotiate times that they are available after they finish up, to answer any questions or provide necessary handover information.


Thoroughly document the resignation process. Keep records of any discussions, emails, or reasons provided by the departing employee. This documentation can serve as a valuable resource in case of legal inquiries, disputes, or if the need arises to revisit the circumstances surrounding the departure.

Resourcing Options

Quickly assess the impact of the departure on the team and devise a resourcing plan. Consider redistributing responsibilities among existing employees (but be sure not to overload individuals unfairly), hiring temporary support, or implementing other solutions to ensure minimal disruption to ongoing projects and operations.

Know your Award

The specific requirements for conclusion can be different depending on the award, registered agreement or employment contract when ending their employment. It is important to know which instruments relate to your business and individual positions and apply them correctly.


In conclusion.

While unexpected resignations pose challenges, approaching the situation with a focus on legal compliance, open communication, and strategic planning is crucial. 

Understanding your rights and responsibilities as an employer not only helps in managing the immediate impact but also contributes to fostering a positive workplace culture in the long run.


The information provided in this document is for your guidance only and is general in nature. It does not constitute as legal advice. It is the responsibility of the individual to seek legal advice where required.


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About Kate Tongue

Kate Tongue is the founding Director of Small Business Society.

She is a qualified and experienced Human Resources professional with more than 10 years of experience across the private and public sectors.

Her particular interest and experience is in managing the employee life cycle, delivering process improvements, and Human Resource strategy.

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