I was just wondering, is Human Resources (HR) allowed to pass on your resignation letter to your manager? - gov.uk website states that the HR are meant to keep your documents (including HR) secure as these are confidential documents. If HR passed this document on to my manager, is this a breach of my confidentiality?

This links to my previous question in which my manager as then gone on to breach my confidentiality too. For anyone wondering, I live in England - UK.

  • 1
    HR roles and abilities are defined by the company. In practical terms anyway. Some places give them pretty free rein, others keep a careful eye on them and set limits. But since they often have the hire/fire ability, it's not a great idea to push them too hard in many places.
    – Kilisi
    Jun 16, 2016 at 20:37
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    Where in the world it is a good idea to give your resignation letter to the HR department, without letting your manager know that you are leaving ? In my opinion it is HR department's duty to inform the manager, so that, this clueless person can plan the workload with one less headcount or start the hiring process for a replacement worker. The security in the government website is probably referring to outside entities, not internal company resources.
    – MelBurslan
    Jun 16, 2016 at 20:45
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    From this question and the previous questions you have asked, I'm concerned about your stress over this situation.
    – user17163
    Jun 16, 2016 at 21:49
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    @Thebluefish same here. I think you should stop being so stress about your situation. Take a deep breath and think that it is done. You can't do anything (except taking legal action, but at which costs ?). I am not saying you shouldn't do it, just calm down think about it without anger or dunno which bad feelings.
    – Gautier C
    Jun 17, 2016 at 6:05
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    Your "documents" mean things like your P60 or proof-of-identity, not a resignation letter. And why does your resignation letter say anything other than "I resign."? What does it matter if they distribute a copy to every person in the company? Jun 17, 2016 at 8:43

3 Answers 3


In general, unless you specifically indicated that you were including information that you didn't want to be relayed to your manager, the expectation would be that a letter of resignation would be shared with your manager. Normally, the letter of resignation is sent to your manager directly. It would be very unusual for a letter of resignation to include medical details; normally, you are simply informing the employer that you resign, what your last day will be, and probably some general "thanks for everything" type comments. If you didn't explicitly ask HR not to share your letter of resignation, I don't see that HR did anything wrong by passing your letter on to your manager. HR is generally not in the business of trying to summarize a letter of resignation for a manager, particularly when doing so might cause a miscommunication.

Of course, your manager ought not be sharing medical information for laughs regardless of how he came to know it.


One why was it even necessary to put personal in formation in the resignation letter?

I am resigning for health reasons.

Two a manager has access to much of your HR file.

Three he should not have read it to the staff. IANAL but to me you would have a hard time getting damages from a court of law.

  • Also, he was knocked down by a car. Why is this even an issue? If I was in a car accident and if I had to resign as a result, I personally wouldn't have any problem with everyone at work knowing about it. These things happen and they can happen to anybody. Also, it's not like it's HIV or MS, where the disease can progressively get worse years later even if you're perfectly fine now. And if he really wanted this accident to have remained confidential, he should really have marked it as such. This isn't to say that what HR did was legal. It probably wasn't. Jun 17, 2016 at 6:29

You are misunderstanding the word "confidential". When government sources, lawyers, judges, etc. say "confidential" (in context to HR and companies) they are referring to 2 key principals:

  1. Keeping your information from employees who are AT OR BELOW your pay grade/job level. [Prevents spying on financial information, health information, and other private information]
  2. Keeping your information from certain outside parties (i.e. strangers, other companies, etc.) [while still complying with legal inquires/obligations)

In your case, there is nothing preventing your manager from viewing your file (even if it just your termination letter) for any reason. He might need to do so if inquiries ever arose where:

  • He/She got called by a prospective employer for a reference/background check (he does not want to give false information that could get him in trouble).
  • He/She might need to check for data accuracy concerns (i.e. final work date discrepancies, disclosure of company info (passwords), etc.).
  • If you were still active, he/she might need to know about allergies, cultural/religious concerns (i.e. knowing when certain holidays are for planning reasons), driving records if you do company business while on the road, etc.

Managers, executives, and even shareholder(s)/owner(s) (country specific laws come into effect here) can view an entire employee's file if they so desire. Keep in mind these instances are documented (i.e. A manager, Bob, viewed an employee's file, Joe.) These individuals are allowed to access this information as it pertains to their role in the company and job duties.

Managers have the right to see why their employees quit for many reasons (lack of good pay, lack of good benefits, workload issues, personal/family issues, managerial issues, advancement/career points, etc.) all of which provide valuable insight into how a department and the company is doing. This data often gives managers the information they need to convince superiors to change things so retention rates increase for example. They also need to be aware of the termination reason(s), at the time of termination, to prevent them from coming up for dispute later on down the road if you ever reapply at the company, sue the company, the company gets audited, etc.

HR plays many key roles in a company, and while they must protect information from many people, they must also utilize the information within the business by giving managers the tools to properly do their jobs and keep departments running smoothly. If you are concerned your rights have been violated then I would recommend that you consult an attorney with HR, labor, HIPPA, and management compliance expertise.

  • It's actually "keeping your private information from any employees, whatever position, who don't need to know it". For example, there is one guy in payroll who has my bank account number because he needs it to put my salary into my bank account. His boss has no need to know it, my manager has no need to know it, the CEO has no need to know it, so if any of them knows it, it's a breach of confidentiality.
    – gnasher729
    Jun 18, 2016 at 20:41
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    @gnasher729 Not really. The individual's boss in payroll SHOULD know it so he can check if there any mistakes/illegal actions (internal controls are set throughout several areas) or if the payroll individual leaves, gets fired, is sick, etc. Your boss WOULD need to know/approve if you make any changes to your payroll information (it is an internal control to prevent errors and employees making notes/changes they shouldn't). A CEO MIGHT need to know if he gets a legal inquiry about your account and he has to disclose it to his attorney. An owner can know anything he wants, he owns the Co.
    – G.T.D.
    Jun 19, 2016 at 19:00

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