I resigned from two companies when I worked in Brazil and in both cases they demanded that I write a resignation letter by hand. In both cases the human resources department would not accept a letter typed then signed and they did not provide a template when I requested and did not explain why. Is there any law preventing them from accepting a typed letter, providing a template, or explaining why?

My impression is that they needed a letter in my words and having it handwritten would be a evidence that the resignation was totally at my will and that I was not coerced in doing so. Is this like that in other jurisdictions (handwritten letter as evidence of no coercion)?

  • If you could be coerced into a signature, you could be coerced into writing the document. I've never heard of a need for such letters to be handwritten, and have never had any typed-then-signed letters declined.
    – Nij
    Jun 30 '16 at 9:44
  • 1
    My guess is that when a person is presented with a letter typed by someone else, this person would very likely to sign it without revising it to his/her own interest. Even if this is not a hard coercion (like signing a document at gun point), this would make some light coercion that the employer would want to avoid being liable to. I'm just guessing, if someone has any better idea on it, please fell free to tell me. Jun 30 '16 at 18:23

While there seems to be no substantive legal basis for that claim. However, it is a documented albeit insubstantial rumor, see p. 22 of this, possibly based on information from a Brazilian law firm, which says

The employee may resign at his/her own will. For that purpose, the employee will provide a handwritten resignation letter (legal formality), and must provide the employer with thirty (30) days notice, who may decide whether or not to exempt the employee from working during this period.

If an employer saw this, they might think it was true, or at least treat it as sufficient grounds for making life difficult. All of the law seems to be here, and there seems to be no requirement for anything to be manuscrita/o.

  • The article you referred to is excellent! The way they write, they imply that this is a typical way of a employee to resign more than a legal requirement. Sep 9 '16 at 18:46

There is no special rule that says that a resignation has to be handwritten.

Handwriting is important in very limited circumstances, such as wills. For example, if you write your will by hand and sign it, it is known as a 'holographic' will and no further formalities are required (depending on the jurisdiction). In contrast, if you type and sign your will, you must have the will also signed by one or more witnesses (again depending on the jurisdiction).

If you tender your resignation by typewritten letter, and the employer demands a handwritten letter, and you refuse, then you have still resigned.

The only time the employer has to agree to your resignation is in the case of a fixed-term contract. In the case of ordinary employment, you can resign at any time (by giving notice); this is a unilateral act.

The employer's demand for a handwritten resignation letter is probably motivated by tactical considerations such as a concern that you may later claim to have been fired and they made you sign a form letter to get out of paying your severance pay. But it is not a legal requirement.

  • Thanks for the details. That's what I suspected since the beginning: this is merely legal ammunition for the company in case the resignation is questioned in court so they would claim that they did nothing to influence my decision. Sep 8 '16 at 19:57

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