Relieving Letter. Overview. Importance and legal aspects

by Axel Hardy

Relieving Letters: Navigating Legal Compliance and Enhancing Professional Transitions

A relieving letter is a formal document issued by an employer to an employee that confirms the end of their employment. This letter is crucial as it is a formal release allowing the employee to start a new job without any legal hindrances.

What is a Relieving Letter?

A relieving letter is a formal document issued by an employer after an employee's resignation has been accepted. It certifies that the employee has fulfilled their duties and is being relieved from their role on good terms. Typically, this letter will include the employee’s name, job title, period of employment, and their last working day.

Importance of a Relieving Letter in Professional Transitions

Formal Closure and Confirmation of Employment Status

  • Purpose and Clarity: A relieving letter officially confirms the termination of employment, providing a precise and formal closure for both the employer and the employee. This document is crucial as it prevents future disputes about the employee’s status with the company.

Impact on Employee’s Future Employment

  • Verification Tool: Future employers often require a relieving letter to prove the end of previous employment relationships. This letter serves as a verification tool that the individual has left their former job on mutually agreed-upon terms, which is essential for background checks and smooth onboarding processes.

Psychological and Perceptual Impact

  • Research Insights: Studies like those by Jablin & Krone (1984) and Feinberg et al. (1996) highlight how the tone and content of employment-related letters can significantly affect an individual's self-concept and perceptions of the issuing body. A well-crafted relieving letter can leave employees feeling optimistic about their past employment, impacting their professional demeanour in future roles.

Legal and Compliance Aspects

  • Legal Safeguard: A relieving letter acts as a legal document that certifies the employee has fulfilled all responsibilities, including returning company property and completing all duties. This is crucial for compliance and audit purposes, safeguarding both the employee and employer from potential legal disputes.

Promotion of Fair and Ethical Practices

  • Fairness and Transparency: Based on fairness theory, as discussed in the research by Gilliland et al. (2001), a relieving letter that transparently outlines the terms of an employee’s departure can foster a sense of fairness and ethical treatment. This is crucial for maintaining the employer's reputation and can influence the morale and engagement of remaining employees.

Impact on Company Image and Employer Brand

  • Company Reputation: How an employer issues a relieving letter can significantly affect its image. A professional and courteous relieving letter can enhance the employer brand, making the company a more attractive workplace. It shows that the company respects its employees and adheres to professional standards, which can be crucial for attracting top talent.

Types of Relieving Letters

Different circumstances may necessitate different relieving letters, such as immediate release or standard notice.

 Here are a few scenarios that might influence the specifics of a relieving letter:

  1. Standard Relieving Letter: This is the most common form issued to employees who resign and leave the company on amicable terms after completing their notice period. It confirms the employee's departure date, acknowledges the completion of duties, and often wishes the employee success in future endeavours.
  2. Immediate Relief Letter: Sometimes, if an employee resigns and the company decides it's mutually beneficial to expedite their departure, a relieving letter may be issued immediately, waiving the remainder of the notice period. This letter notes that the company has agreed to relieve the employee sooner than planned.
  3. Forced Resignation Relieving Letter: In cases where an employee is asked to resign (often as a softer alternative to termination), the relieving letter may still be issued. It might indicate that the resignation was at the company's behest, although typically, it's phrased diplomatically to maintain professionalism.
  4. Conditional Relieving Letter: Issued when certain conditions must be met before the final relieving, such as return of company property, completion of specific tasks, or settlement of financial dues. This letter might specify that relieving is subject to these conditions being fulfilled.
  5. Retirement Relieving Letter: When an employee retires, the relieving letter can acknowledge their service, note the retirement, and express gratitude for their contributions.

Drafting a Relieving Letter

Creating a relieving letter requires attention to detail to ensure that all legal and personal aspects are appropriately addressed.

Essential Components of a Relieving Letter

A relieving letter should contain several essential components:

  1. Company Letterhead: To authenticate the document, the relieving letter should be printed on the company's official letterhead, which includes the company's name, address, logo, and contact information.
  2. Date: The date the letter is issued should be stated at the top.
  3. Employee Details: Include the employee's full name, job title, and department. This personalizes the letter and helps future employers verify the individual’s employment.
  4. Employment Duration: Clearly state the period of employment, including the start and end dates. This information is crucial for background checks and understanding the length of service.
  5. Confirmation of Resignation: The letter should explicitly state that the employee has resigned and the company has accepted their resignation.
  6. Last Working Day: Mention the employee's last working day and confirm that they have completed all necessary handovers or duties by that date.
  7. Clearance of Obligations: It’s important to state that the employee has fulfilled all their responsibilities and cleared all their duties. This might include returning company property, settling financial obligations, or completing assigned tasks.
  8. Well Wishes: Although not mandatory, it’s customary to include a statement wishing the employee success in their future endeavours. This adds a positive note to the letter and ends the employment relationship on a friendly note.
  9. Signature: The letter should be signed by an authorized person, typically someone from the HR department or the employee’s direct supervisor. This signifies that the company officially sanctions the letter.
  10. Contact Information for Verification: Provide contact details, such as an email or phone number, where future employers can reach out to verify the information or discuss the employee’s tenure, if needed.

Sample format of a relieving letter

Dear [Employee's First Name],

I am writing on behalf of [Company Name] to formally acknowledge and accept your resignation dated [Date of Resignation Letter], with your last working day being [Last Working Day].

During your tenure from [Start Date] to [End Date], you have been an invaluable asset to our team, consistently demonstrating professionalism and dedication in your role as [Job Title]. Your contributions to [mention specific projects or achievements if applicable] have helped drive our success and set a benchmark for others in the department.

We confirm you have completed all assigned duties and responsibilities up to your last working day, fulfilling all requirements per our company's policies. We also acknowledge that all necessary handovers and formalities have been completed, ensuring a smooth transition for your successors.

As you move forward, we want to express our gratitude for your time with us and wish you nothing but success in your future endeavours. Your presence will be missed, but we are excited to see what you accomplish next.

Please get in touch with our HR department at [HR Contact Information] for any further assistance during your transition or for future employment verification needs.

Warm regards,

[Signature of HR Manager or Supervisor]\

Legal Considerations in a Relieving Letter

Understanding the legal implications of relieving letters is crucial for employers and employees to avoid future disputes.

Here are some of the key legal aspects and implications associated with relieving letters:

  1. Proof of Termination of Employment: A relieving letter is a legal proof that an employee's tenure has officially ended, which is crucial in disputes about employment status. This proof is essential in contexts like wrongful termination claims, eligibility for unemployment benefits, or end-of-service benefits discussions. Research by Greenberg (1984) supports the need for clear documentation in preventing legal disputes related to employment termination.
  2. Prevents Future Litigation: By confirming that all duties have been satisfactorily completed and that notice period requirements were met, relieving letters help prevent future legal disputes over job performance or contract compliance. As Edelman (1992) suggests, organizational practices around compliance can mediate the impact of legal principles, mitigating potential litigation.
  3. Verification for Future Employers: Relieving letters act as reliable documents for future employers, ensuring no legal complications from previous employment carry over. Verifying that an employee left on good terms significantly impacts hiring decisions. Mundlak and Borenstein Lyabock's (2021) discussions on compliance negotiation highlight how these documents serve as tools for organizational and legal navigation.
  4. Clarity on Final Settlement: The letter often states that all dues have been cleared and the employee has returned all company property, proving that both parties have fulfilled their financial obligations. This clarity helps avoid disputes over unpaid wages or benefits, aligning with insights from Ramesh (2022) on balancing legal compliance with organizational needs.
  5. Non-disclosure and Non-compete Clauses: Relieving letters can remind employees of their ongoing obligations under non-disclosure or non-compete agreements. As noted by Greenberg (1984), this legal reinforcement of post-employment duties is crucial for protecting intellectual property and competitive interests.
  6. Mandatory Issuance in Some Jurisdictions: In certain countries or regions, labour laws mandate the provision of a relieving letter, especially when the employee requests it. Failure to provide a relieving letter can result in legal penalties or administrative action against the employer.
  7. Impact on Employment Benefits: A relieving letter may be necessary for the employee to access particular government or private employment benefits, such as pension funds or unemployment insurance. This document may make it easier to prove eligibility for these benefits.
  8. Ethical and Professional Standards: Issuing a relieving letter reflects well on an employer, demonstrating adherence to professional HR practices and fostering a reputation of fairness and respect. This can benefit the company's brand, aligning with the broader implications of legal compliance in fostering positive workplace cultures, as discussed by Mundlak and Borenshtein Lyabock (2021).

Employee Perspective on relieving letter

From the employee's viewpoint, understanding how to handle the relieving letter process is crucial for career progression.

How to Request a Relieving Letter?

Requesting a relieving letter is critical to transitioning from one job to another. Handling this request professionally is essential to ensure you receive the necessary documentation without any issues. Here’s how to go about requesting a relieving letter:

Step 1: Understand Company Policy

Before making your request, familiarize yourself with your company’s HR policies regarding the resignation process and issuance of relieving letters. Some companies might automatically issue this letter once all exit formalities are completed, while others may require a formal request.

Step 2: Complete All Exit Formalities

Ensure you have completed all required exit procedures, such as handing over responsibilities, returning company property, and clearing any outstanding dues. This will help expedite the process of issuing your relieving letter.

Step 3: Formal Request

Draft a formal request for the relieving letter. Depending on your company's communication protocols, this can be done through email or written letters.

Sample Email Request for a Relieving Letter:

Subject: Request for Relieving Letter Dear [HR Manager/Supervisor’s Name],

I hope this message finds you well. As you are aware, my last working day with [Company Name] was on [Last Working Day], following the notice period concluded on [End Date of Notice Period].

I am writing to the issuance of my relieviresignation kindly. Receiving this document is crucial for my future career endeavours, as it will serve as formal proof of my employment and resignation acceptance here.

I have ensured that all required exit formalities have been completed satisfactorily (mention any specific formalities if necessary). I would appreciate it if you could process this request at your earliest convenience. Thank you very much for your attention to this matter.

Warm regards, [Your Full Name] [Your Job Title] [Your Contact Information]

Step 4: Follow-Up

Following up is appropriate if you are still waiting for a response or the relieving letter within a reasonable timeframe. You can do this via email or speaking directly to someone in HR. Remain polite and professional, as this will encourage a positive response.

Step 5: Review the Relieving Letter

Once you receive the relieving letter, review it thoroughly to ensure all details are accurate, such as your name, position, dates of employment, and last working day. Contact HR promptly to request the necessary changes if any corrections are needed.

Step 6: Keep Records

Once everything is in order, keep a copy of the relieving letter for your records. You may need this document for future job applications or other professional needs.

By following these steps, you can smoothly and effectively request and obtain your relieving letter, ensuring that you leave your current position with all necessary formalities completed and documented.

Handling Disputes over Relieving Letters

Handling disputes over the issuance of a relieving letter can be a challenging situation. Here are some steps you can consider if you're facing such issues:

  1. Review Employment Contract and Company Policies: Start by reviewing your employment contract and the company's HR policies. This may clarify the terms regarding issuing a relieving letter and any conditions that need to be fulfilled, such as notice periods or pending assignments.
  2. Communicate Formally: Address the issue through formal communication. Write a polite and concise email to your HR department detailing your request for a relieving letter and any discrepancies or delays in the process. Recording all communications is essential as they may help resolve the dispute.
  3. Fulfill All Obligations: Ensure you have fulfilled all your obligations, such as serving the notice period, completing all assigned work, and handing over responsibilities per the company's requirements. Sometimes, issues arise due to misunderstandings or uncompleted tasks.
  4. Seek Clarification on Delays: If there's a delay, ask for specific reasons. Sometimes, delays can be due to administrative reasons or misunderstandings that can be cleared up with communication.
  5. Mediation: If direct communication does not resolve the issue, consider proposing mediation. Sometimes, a neutral third party can help the employee and the employer reach a mutual agreement.
  6. Legal Advice: If the dispute escalates, it might be necessary to seek legal advice. An employment lawyer can provide guidance based on your employment contract and local labor laws.
  7. Document Everything: Keep records of all communications, employment contracts, exit formalities, and interactions with HR. This documentation can be crucial in case of legal proceedings or formal disputes.
  8. Contact Labor Authorities: Suppose the issue remains unresolved, and you believe your rights are being violated. You can contact your local labour authorities or the labour court for assistance. They can guide how to proceed legally.

Difference between experience letter vs relieving letter

Understanding the differences between an experience letter and a relieving letter is essential as they serve distinct purposes and are used in different contexts during the employment cycle and job application processes. Here’s a breakdown of each document and the key differences:

Experience Letter

Purpose: An experience letter is issued by an employer to confirm an individual's employment in the organization. It primarily serves as proof of your work experience and capabilities.


  • Employee Details: Like the relieving letter, it includes your name, job title, and sometimes your department.
  • Employment Duration: States the period of your employment with the company.
  • Job Responsibilities: Briefly describe your roles and responsibilities during your tenure.
  • Performance and Skills: This may include a statement about your skills, performance, and contributions to the company. It will benefit future employers by providing insight into your professional capabilities and strengths.
  • Professional Conduct: Often includes a note on your behaviour and professionalism in the workplace.
  • Endorsement: The employer may endorse the employee for future employment opportunities, noting their suitability for potential roles.

Usage: Primarily used by employees to showcase their professional background and skills to prospective employers. It’s an important document when applying for new jobs or advancing in one’s career.

Relieving Letter

Purpose: A relieving letter confirms that an employee has resigned and has been relieved from their duties. It signifies the end of an employment contract.


  • Employee Details: Includes the employee's name and job title.
  • Confirmation of Resignation: States that the employee's resignation has been accepted.
  • Last Working Day: Lists the employee’s final working day, confirming that all obligations up to that point have been fulfilled.
  • Clearance of Duties: Confirms that the employee has completed all their responsibilities and returned all company property, if applicable.
  • Formal Closure: This may include well wishes for the employee’s future endeavours, but it focuses on the formal end of the employment relationship.

Usage: Needed when formally ending your employment relationship with a company. New employers often require that you have officially left your previous job and are legally free to join another employer.

Key Differences

  • Purpose: The experience letter is a testament to your work and conduct and is helpful for career growth. In contrast, the relieving letter is a formal document that marks the conclusion of your current employment.
  • Content: Experience letters discuss your role, responsibilities, and performance. Relieving letters focus on the administrative aspects of your departure.
  • Utility: Experience letters help in job applications, providing potential employers with a record of your skills and performance. Relieving letters help verify your employment history and ensure there are no legal or administrative ties to your former employer that might affect your new employment.

Both documents are essential in their own right. Many professionals use them together to facilitate smooth transitions between jobs while providing comprehensive proof of their employment history and professional competence. 


A concluding section that emphasizes the importance of a well-drafted relieving letter in maintaining professional relationships and aiding in career advancement.

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FAQs on relieving letters

Employers may withhold a relieving letter if there are pending obligations or unresolved issues (e.g., outstanding projects, financial dues). However, if all terms of the employment and resignation are satisfied, an employee is entitled to receive it.

If an employer unjustly withholds a relieving letter, the employee may seek legal counsel or contact labor authorities to mediate and resolve the issue.

Yes, even if terminated, you are entitled to a relieving letter stating the terms of your departure, unless contractual or legal stipulations prevent such issuance.

The requirement for a relieving letter can vary by industry and country. In some places, it is a formal necessity, while in others, it may be more of a professional courtesy. Understanding industry standards and local employment laws is crucial.

Legally, an employer cannot unilaterally extend an employee's tenure without agreement, as this may affect the employee’s new job start date and other professional commitments. If this occurs, it can be challenged legally.

For international employment, a relieving letter should adhere to global HR standards, possibly including additional details like a brief job description, tenure, and reason for leaving, formatted in English or the official language of the host country.

Yes, digital relieving letters are generally considered valid, especially when they include verifiable digital signatures or company seals. However, it's wise to know the preferences or requirements of the subsequent employer regarding digital versus hard copies.

Ethically, a relieving letter should be truthful, respect the employee’s privacy, and not include unnecessary details about the circumstances of their departure, unless mutually agreed upon for clarity or legal reasons.