It’s time to go - here’s how to do it right: how to resign respectfully - all you need to know
The Sector > Jobs News > It’s time to go – here’s how to do it right: how to resign respectfully – all you need to know

It’s time to go – here’s how to do it right: how to resign respectfully – all you need to know

by Freya Lucas

February 01, 2023

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Whether it’s moving to a new area, a change in circumstances, or you’re simply ready to try something new, there comes a time in every early childhood education and care (ECEC) professional’s life when a resignation happens. 


In the guide below, we take you through everything you need to know about how to resign in a respectful, ethical and legal way that minimises the discomfort for everyone involved. 

Readers should be aware that the advice below is general in nature, and does not take into account individual circumstances always refer to your existing contracts, service policies, and the latest information from Fair Work Australia to guide your choices. 


How much notice do I need to give? 


Giving notice means letting your employer know that you’re no longer going to be working at your place of employment. Notice (typically a letter or email) also informs the employer of your last intended working day. 


Terms and conditions in relation to notice periods will be outlined in your contract or offer of employment. While some general rules apply, for those in specialised roles such as early childhood teachers or service leaders, there may be additional requirements, as these positions can be harder to fill and a longer handover period may be needed. 


When thinking about the general rules below, also think about the needs of others in your team, and the needs of children and families too. If possible, try and plan your departure in such a way that the impact is minimised – this might mean waiting until a quieter period of the year, or the end of the year, when children are naturally transitioning anyway. 


As a general rule, the following notice periods apply for permanent employees: 


  • One year or less – one weeks’ notice should be given
  • More than one year – three years – two weeks’ notice should be given
  • More than three years – five years – three weeks’ notice should be given
  • More than five years – four weeks’ notice should be given.


Sometimes employers will ask you to leave the service as soon as your notice is given, to prevent any issues from occurring. In this instance, the period of notice will be paid out instead of attending work. 


Be aware that this could be an outcome when handing in your notice, and make sure you’ve gathered any resources, personal belongings, equipment or other items used in your workplace which are your property, and that you have any uniforms or other items which are company property ready to return. 


If a notice period is paid out, the employer is required to pay the amount equal to the full amount that would have been paid until the end of the notice period. This includes:


  • Incentives – based payments and bonuses
  • Loading
  • Monetary allowances
  • Overtime
  • Penalty rates
  • Any other separately identifiable amount.


Failing to give adequate notice for example, just deciding not to turn up to work anymore, or walking out in the middle of a shift and not coming back could result in entitlements (such as unused annual leave, monies owed etc) being withheld, so it’s important to give the correct amount of notice in line with your contract. 


What to say when you give notice 


Notice should always be given in writing not only does this create a ‘paper trail’ but it also minimises the opportunity for any misunderstandings, and makes expectations and timelines clear. 


Prior to handing in a letter of notice either through email or hard copy a conversation with the relevant person should be held. 


Advise the relevant person that you would like to speak with them privately, make a time for this conversation to occur, and say something like “I just wanted to let you know I’ll be handing in my letter of notice today.” 


If you feel comfortable, you can give a reason, such as “I’ve accepted another position” or “I’m moving to [location]” or “It’s time for me to explore a new career path” but you’re not required to give a reason, particularly if the reason you’re leaving is because of tensions in the workplace. 


This conversation should then be followed by the letter of notice, which should include: 


  • the date of your last day of work (based on the notice you had given)
  • an expression of gratitude for the opportunity. 


Other information which you may like to include (but which is not a requirement) may include: 


  • reason for leaving 
  • what you will be doing next.


Example letter when resigning is due to a positive 


Dear [Manager], 

As discussed, I am writing to tender my resignation. My last day at [Service Name] in the position of [Job title] will be [date].

I am thankful for the relationships I have built here at [Service] and am especially grateful for the opportunities I have had to [insert positive opportunities  here, like receiving a promotion, taking part in professional development, or being involved in interesting projects]. 

I trust that I will be able to rely on you for a positive reference in my future roles. 

Kind regards 



Example letter when resigning is due to workplace issues, or when things are complex 


Dear [Manager], 

I wish to inform you that my last day of employment at [Service] will be [date], in line with my contract, and as discussed. 

Thank you for the opportunity to work as [position name] at [Service]. 



What if I get sick during my notice period, or need to take personal leave? 


Leave can be taken during a notice period, however this is not best practice. In the event that you need to take personal leave during a notice period, discuss this with your service leader, and ensure you have the appropriate evidence, such as a medical certificate. 


A note on professionalism 


Once a resignation has been tendered, for those who have had a negative workplace experience, it can be tempting to “unleash the beast” or to take the attitude of “what are they going to do fire me?” 


However tempting it may seem to say all the things you’ve ever wanted to say, to tell everyone you work with about your amazing new opportunity, or to simply slacken off and enjoy two weeks (or more) of limited responsibilities, how you exit a job is just as important as how you enter it. 


Despite the vast size of Australia, and the huge number of services available, the professional networks in the ECEC sector are strong, and many decision makers such as area managers, state managers, professional development consultants and others are in connection with one another. 


Once notice has been given, serve it out to the best of your ability, leave knowing you have set the next person who takes on your role up for success, and walk on to your new role with grace. 


For more information about resignations, please see the Fair Work website here.

Download The Sector's new App!

ECEC news, jobs, events and more anytime, anywhere.

Download App on Apple App Store Button Download App on Google Play Store Button