Terminating

How do I quit my job?

If you want to leave your job, you have to tell your employer in advance of when you want to leave.  This is called giving notice

Most employment agreements have a clause telling you how much notice you have to give – this can range from a day or two to a month or longer.  Some employment agreements do not have such a clause, but this does not mean that you can just walk out or not turn up.  This is because you still have to give “reasonable” notice to your employer.  See more information on reasonable notice.

If you do not turn up to work and don’t give notice, then depending on what your employment agreement says your employer may be able to withhold or make penalty deductions from your final pay.  So check your employment agreement to be clear about what it says about leaving your employment.

Don’t have an employment agreement

See also – How much final pay should I get?

Can my employer fire me?

Yes – your employer can fire you.  If there is a 90-day trial clause in your employment agreement, which states that you may be dismissed within the 90-days and be unable to raise a personal grievance for unjustified dismissal, then you can be dismissed without reason or an opportunity to appeal that decision.  See more information about 90-day trial periods.

However, if there is no 90-day trial clause, or there is and it is beyond 90 days since you started your employment, your employer must have a good reason for dismissing you, and carry out your dismissal in a fair and reasonable manner. 

Some employment agreements have formal processes for how a dismissal or disciplinary action should take place.  Some employment agreements tell you when you can or can’t be dismissed, or what you can be instantly dismissed for.  The Employment Relations Act 2000 says that there are at least four things an employer should do when taking action against an employee. 

All individual employment agreements must contain a clear explanation of the processes for solving employment relationship problems, i.e. an explanation of processes to follow and services available for resolving employment relationship problems.  It should also mention what your rights are, what happens when a problem is raised, and that there is a period of 90 days within which a personal grievance must be raised.

How many warnings does my employer have to give me before firing me?

Your employment agreement may set out the disciplinary procedures in place at your workplace.  There are no “standard” number of warnings which should be given prior to dismissal, or whether they should be verbal or written.

If you do not have an employment agreement, or there is nothing in the agreement about a disciplinary procedure, this does not mean your employer can fire you without warning (unless you are on a 90 day trial – click here for info).  The Employment Relations Act 2000 says that there are at least four things an employer should do when taking any action against an employee. 

Does my employer have to give me a reference when I leave?

Many employers provide a reference or a certificate outlining the employee's length of service with their employer when an employee leaves their job, even though there is no legal requirement for an employer to provide a reference. Some employers choose to provide a more detailed reference.

If your employer does decide to provide a reference, he/she must take reasonable care to make sure that the reference is a true and accurate reflection about you as an employee.

If you have been employed on a starting-out wage rate, you should also get from your employer a statement of how long you have worked, so that a new employer knows what wage rate to pay you or how long you still need to work before you can get (at least) the adult minimum wage. Here is a Statement of Service form your employer can fill out.

Can I have someone assist me when I talk to my boss?

Yes.  You can appoint anyone you wish to assist you any time you want to talk to your boss or supervisor.  This person can be your parent or guardian, a family friend, or anyone else that you know and trust.  You can also have a professional person like a union rep or a lawyer represent you.

This person can be a support person, but can also be a representative and speak on your behalf if you are not confident of dealing with your boss yourself.  Having a representative may be especially useful when you are negotiating new terms and conditions of employment, or you are dealing with a problem or issue at work.  Your representative can help you understand the implications of any discussions you have with your boss.

What do I need to do before I leave?

Check with your employer about any requirements you have to do before leaving.  Before you leave the work place on your last day make sure that you return any property (such as tools, uniform etc) that belongs to your employer.

When can I expect my final pay? 

Check your employment agreement for when your last pay may be – in some cases it may not be on your last day but on what would have been your next normal pay day.  Your last pay should consist of wages owing for hours worked from the beginning of your last pay period until the end of your last work day, as well as payment for any annual holidays which you haven’t used and any alternative holidays you haven’t taken.