Resignation, 30-day notice and ‘gardening leave’

It does not make sense to me to make resigning workers render 30 days’ further work. It is usually justified by the need to hire and train a replacement and effect a smooth transition. However, I would rather not allow a resigned person stick around. For one, I’m afraid that the resigned person would not even lift a finger to look for a replacement and could be a bad influence to the new employee, especially if the resigned worker is leaving under questionable circumstance. What do you think? — Lazy Susan.

The 30-day rule for the effectivity of one’s resignation is required for the protection of employers. The idea is for a resigning worker to participate in a smooth transition and help minimize the disruption in business operations. Still, much depends on the judgment of the employer, who can waive that right and allow the worker to leave the premises immediately.

In reality, you can’t get many things from a resigned person in 30 days. In many circumstances, it would be awkward for that person to hang around, especially if the circumstances behind the departure are negative, such as being bypassed for a promotion or the rejection of a request for increased pay.

There’s a chance that a replacement can’t be hired right away if the pool consists of external candidates. That’s why it’s better to promote someone from within or do an intra or inter-department transfer. It’s a better approach, from the standpoint of motivating your other workers.

After all, the resignation of an average performer or a long-serving piece of deadwood is always welcome, as it allows the organization to infuse new blood and change the work environment.

Requiring a resigned person to stay for 30 days should not be automatic. Employers must use their judgment, and consider the option to dispense with it altogether, weighing the pros and cons along the way.

Disgruntled resignees must not be allowed to be physically present in the office; at best they should be on call for online consultation, as needed. This means paying the resignee full pay and perks during that 30-days, without deducting from their earned vacation leave credits.

Better to spend additional money than risk the organization’s future.

Do this carefully and courteously. Maintain goodwill with that person, who aspires to obtain a favorable recommendation for the next employer. In other words, both the employee and employer must not burn bridges.

Not many managers know that they can give resigned workers the option to take “gardening leave,” which runs out the clock on the 30-day period without the need to be present in the office.

Gardening leave has its origins in the UK, where the departing worker is allowed to stay home during the notice period to tend to a notional garden. The idea is to prevent the worker from destroying or tampering with company records or copying trade secrets and other confidential information.

It is also advisable for employers not to mindlessly force their resigned workers to work within the 30-day period. There are many imperceptible reasons for this:

One, the resignee may be a bad influence on others. The departing worker could badmouth management or colleagues. The resigned person could also invite other workers to seek employment elsewhere.

Two, the resignee may not be productive. There is no assurance that the departing worker will be doing work that benefits the organization. Better to have that person simply work from home, to complete a transition project with definite deliverables, for which presence in the office is not necessary.

Three, the resignee may portray himself as excessively important. No one is indispensable. Your departing worker may spread word that the department can’t survive without him, which should not be true if management is ready with a dynamic succession plan.

In conclusion, don’t treat a worker’s resignation like it’s the end of the world. Don’t be tempted to make a counter-offer. You may not know it, but in general, resignations could lead you to more favorable situations down the road.


Join Rey Elbo’s “Kaizen Study Mission” to Toyota City, Japan on July 23-29, 2023. Reward your best workers and managers for their excellent ideas resulting in eliminated waste. Chat with him on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or e-mail or via