Introduction to this document

Letter to ex-employee about personal belongings

If an employee leaves their employment suddenly, it’s possible they’ll have left behind some personal items. You can use our letter to try and return these items to them.

No opportunity to retrieve

Whilst, employees will usually have plenty of time during their notice period to take home their personal effects when they’re leaving your employment, sometimes this won’t always be possible, for example, if the employee resigned without notice, was dismissed for gross misconduct or was asked to leave the workplace immediately and paid in lieu of notice. In those circumstances, the employee may well have left behind an assortment of personal items, which might include clothes, family photographs, keys, books, framed certificates, etc. If your ex-employee doesn’t contact you in a timely manner to make arrangements to retrieve their possessions, you should be proactive and contact them. You can’t just throw their things away when you re-assign their desk or locker to another employee and it’s best not to let the situation drift, particularly if any of the items have financial or sentimental value. So, use our Letter to Ex-employee about Personal Belongings to start the ball rolling. In the meantime, treat the items with respect and keep them securely.

Request to collect

Our letter lists the personal items that the ex-employee has left behind and then asks them to contact you to arrange for their return. It’s better here for your list to be specific rather than vague, in case there’s a later dispute. We’ve then given two options. The first envisages that you’ll arrange for them to be sent on to the employee, e.g. by post or courier - but this could be expensive if the items are bulky or heavy. The second assumes the employee will be permitted to come back to the workplace to collect them - but you might not want to offer this if they left on bad terms. It’s really up to you what arrangements you want to offer here, but if the employee asks for someone else to collect the items on their behalf, ask them to confirm that in writing. 


Finally, our letter gives a deadline for the ex-employee to contact you, failing which it says you’ll make arrangements to dispose of the items. Do give them a reasonable period of time in which to contact you, i.e. weeks rather than days. At the very least, be prepared to keep the items for a month as the employee might well be away on holiday or otherwise unable to contact you when your letter arrives. You can dispose of the items after you’ve made reasonable attempts to arrange for their return; you don’t have to hold on to them indefinitely.