How to write a retirement letter to your employer

Craft an effective retirement letter with these straightforward tips, ensuring a smooth transition and maintaining positive relations as you step into retirement. Discover how to communicate your retirement plans clearly and respectfully.

By Brad Nakase, Attorney

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Have a quick question? I answered nearly 1500 FAQs.

Introduction

Congratulations on your upcoming retirement. It is an exciting time with a lot to organize in preparation for the big day. One of the things you need to organize (that is easy to overlook) is a retirement letter to your employer.

Just like when you leave your job for any other reason, you have to submit written notice to your employer. Here is everything you need to know about retirement letters and how to submit them.

What is a Retirement Letter?

A retirement letter is your letter of notice to your employer that you are leaving your job. Just like you would write a resignation letter, your retirement letter contains details of your final day, and your boss will file it in your employee records.

Often, when you retire, you collect retirement benefits, so a retirement letter is particularly important. Giving your employer notice of your retirement allows them to arrange your retirement benefits in addition to preparing for your departure.

A retirement letter doesn’t have to be a physical copy. Sending it via email is a good idea because you can copy HR in and kill two birds with one stone. Just make sure you have a conversation with your immediate supervisor ahead of sending the email so they are not learning about your retirement for the first time when they receive your retirement letter.

The Benefits of a Retirement Letter

Writing a retirement letter when you are planning to retire will benefit all parties involved.

Your employer benefits from a retirement letter because…

It gives them time to get anything they need in order. For example, they may need you to document processes or ensure that all your work is handed over to qualified colleagues. Your boss also needs time to process the admin that comes with your retirement, like organizing your pension, cashing out your unused vacation and sick days.

Writing a retirement letter and giving them notice, also allows your employer to get a head start on hiring a replacement or otherwise deciding how they are going to cover your job after you leave. There is a shorter downtime than there would otherwise be if they didn’t have any notice.

You benefit from writing a retirement letter because…

You are showing respect to your employer and your boss. Even if you plan to retire for good, it is good to leave on a good note rather than having people feel like you are leaving them in the lurch. You never know what the future holds. The connections you made at the company may be valuable in the future. You may want to do some consulting with your company to earn a little money during retirement, or something unexpected may come up, and you need to go back to work. Leaving on a good note means that all of those are a possibility.

You have time to process the news yourself and have your colleagues process the news of you leaving. When you hand in a retirement letter, you are able to announce your retirement officially. That means plenty of time to organize your leaving party and get excited for the next chapter of your life.

What Should Go in a Retirement Letter?

Writing a retirement letter to your employer does not have to be difficult. In many ways, it is similar to any other letter of resignation; there are only a few differences.

  • Address – A retirement letter starts by addressing the letter recipients. You should address it to your immediate boss or bosses (depending on your company set-up.)
  • Be specific about your retirement date – Your retirement letter needs to include the details of your final day. Make sure it is easy to find. Each employer has a different policy on the required notice period, so you may need to double-check what notice you need to give, often dependent on the length of your tenure. If there is no notice period, give at least two weeks notice.
  • Niceties – It is standard practice to thank your employer for the experience of working at the company and for the opportunities you have had during your time at the organization.
  • An offer to assist with the transition in any way possible – You want to leave on good terms with your current employer, so it is standard practice to offer to help by completing handovers and assisting with training your replacement during your notice period. This assistance will pave the way for the next step if you want.
  • Discuss freelancing or consulting – For those who have amassed experience and seniority in their career (especially in niche industries) they often continue to share their expertise through consulting or freelancing opportunities. This is a great way to earn extra money while also having plenty of time to enjoy your retirement. Consider whether that would be right for you. If it is, you can include in your retirement letter that you would be open to consulting if your employer needs extra assistance. This is also something that you should discuss with your boss.
  • Let your employer know if you need anything from them – Often you will need your employer to action something on their end to make for a smooth transition to retirement. This could be related to your pension, healthcare, unused sick days or vacation leave, or retirement plan. Ask politely. Also, use this part of your retirement letter to let your employer know how to handle your final paycheck. Your company may have a policy on this, so check your policy first.

Make sure you submit your retirement letter in writing by the day before your notice period starts. Also, tell your manager ahead of giving them your retirement letter. This could be telling them the day before that you are planning to retire and that you will give them your retirement letter tomorrow. Giving your manager this warning is seen as polite and will go a long way towards preserving the relationship with your manager.

Frequently Asked Questions About Retirement Letters

Here are some of the FAQs that people ask about retirement letters.

1. How Long Should My Retirement Letter Be?

When writing your retirement plan, keep it brief and polite. Your retirement letter should not be longer than a single page.

2. Should I Give Feedback in My Retirement Letter?

This is not the place to air any grievances or give unsolicited advice. Keep your retirement letter (that is in writing and will live on long after you are retired.) If you have an exit interview, you may share any concerns there, but again, consider if you want to leave on a good note or not.

3. How Should I Deliver the Retirement Letter?

Most companies will have a process that you need to follow. If you are unsure what it is, check the employee handbook or ask your boss when you tell them verbally that you are going to retire. Some companies prefer a physical retirement letter, and some prefer you to email.

Email can be better as it means there is a record of your retirement letter and final date. Unfortunately, with physical letters, they can get lost, or your boss may forget to pass them on to HR. When you email your retirement letter, you can copy it to all the relevant parties.

4. What If My Boss Wants Me to Give a Longer Notice Period?

Sometimes, when you hand in your retirement letter, your boss may bring up the idea of you working a little longer to finish up a project or give them a little more time to train your replacement.

It is completely up to you whether you want to give a longer notice period or not. There are benefits (like earning a little more money before retirement and being able to see a project to completion), but there are also drawbacks. As long as you give at least the minimum required notice period (as per law and your employment contract), then your boss cannot force you to work past your notice date. Handle the situation politely, though; you still want to leave on good terms. You can always say that you have booked a non-refundable vacation and cannot work any longer.

Have a quick question? We answered nearly 2000 FAQs.

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