My employment contract states that my resignation needs to submitted in a 'written communication'. I'm not sure if it means a hand written letter or if it is just a way of saying I need to submit a typed & printed hard copy (i.e no email)

Does the term 'written communication' have an accepted legal meaning (U.S or Indian law) in the context of resignation letter, or in any other context?

  • 2
    type it and print it, or write it out by hand, no problem
    – Kilisi
    Mar 27 '16 at 8:03
  • Type out a professional letter (look it up for format) and sign the bottom. Turn that in as well as an email.
    – Dan
    Mar 28 '16 at 14:02

"Written communication" means you have to leave a paper trail of documentation. While not all jurisdictions have decided whether a fax or email counts as "written", you should use the safe method of actually delivering a real piece of paper.

It does not matter whether you type the text or write it by hand, as long as it's perfectly readable.

Although not explicitly mentioned, you should sign it. Signatures are accepted in handwriting only.

So the normal way would be to type a letter, print it, then sign it and deliver it.

Normally, companies have a procedure where you deliver something in writing and if it's a one-sided notice (like a resignation) that does not need to be countersigned, you get a written acknowledgement that it has been received. Make sure you get this, because there is no way to prove you delivered your resignation if the company conveniently "loses" it.

  • If the company "conveniently" loses it, then it's a good thing that you resigned. You don't want to build a career in a company that might do such things.
    – Lie Ryan
    Mar 27 '16 at 11:38

If you believe your departing will be in good terms, ask your HR. If not or if you are not sure how your departure will be received by the company, ask a lawyer.

In most cases, "written communication" simply means they want clear communication in no uncertain terms, that you have communicated your intended date of departure at a certain date, so the various people that have to then do the various red tapes know when you will leave and can prepare accordingly (payslips, employment record, reassigning work, hiring for replacements, removing access privileges, etc). They don't want this to be mentioned on the passing to your manager, who might then forget to pass the info to HR or pass it late, that they have to rush the red tapes. Email may suffice for this requirement, and in this case, the HR might not necessarily appreciate a physical copy which can be easily misplaced or searched, especially if they have to scan or retype it to let other people know of the details of your departure.

In other cases, "written communication" means they want to archive the physical copy with signature for legal/audit/archival/whatever purpose. In this case, you want to print this out and sign it with a pen and ask your HR what other details/attachments are necessary to be put into the physical copy and who has to countersign if any.

This may be described in your employment contract or in employee handbook, but if not, the only way to find out is ask your HR.

If you don't trust your employer though, if you think they might try make your departure difficult for whatever reasons, then you want to ask a lawyer how best to deliver your departure. Also, you want to ask for a receipt of any letters that you have delivered to them and anything they said. This kind of precaution may be necessary if you have reason to distrust your employer.


Most large companies (or at least large enough to have a HR department) are legally bound to retain all e-mails. So an internal email (from your work e-mail address) should suffice. But, just to be safe, print off a copy of that e-mail, sign it, make a photocopy for yourself, and hand the original to HR.

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