Boris Johnson announced he will be resigning as leader of the Conservative Party yesterday which followed many resignations of others from his party.

How important is it to willingly step down as a leader when you have lost support from your employees?

And how do you handle a situation if a leader or a person of particular power will not willingly step down and it causes the resignations of others?


Resignations and leadership changes

Even before the resignations, leaders have had to adapt to a changing landscape since the pandemic forced us into different methods of working.

The resignation of Boris is an example of when a senior member of staff leaves.

In these instances, having a successful hand-over procedure, or an effective succession planning strategy in place, is essential. This is to ensure business can continue as ‘usual’, whilst also ensuring minimal stress for existing staff.

Staff may naturally feel a greater workload when a senior member of staff leaves, as basic operations may cease to run as normal when leadership suddenly ceases or changes.


Reconstructing an organisation

The resignation of Boris and many of the Conservative Party has shaken the structure of parliament. Similarly, losing an employee can impact the structure of organisations, and in some cases, causing operations to come to a halt.

This is a chance for organisations to reconstruct their foundations, replacing and reviewing functions. This may also have a positive impact on the organisation’s culture, enabling leaders to consider how they can promote a greater work-life balance, or considering how they can improve employee satisfaction through devising better employment benefit schemes.


Offer of settlement

Most employers will approach the employee with an offer of settlement whereby they usually leave with a sum of money in exchange for terminating their employment and waiving their employment rights.

Employers should be open-minded about the types of things which are important to the senior employee in settlement: are they going to want to retain their company car; do they or their family enjoy private healthcare via the company; are they concerned about their employment prospects and keen to secure a favourable reference; do they want a say in their exit statement to avoid losing face? All of these things can be factored into a settlement agreement if necessary.

Kirstie Beattie, Employment Solicitor at employment law and HR support firm WorkNest said:

“When concerns over performance, conduct and team relationships are identified with high level management, for example because issues have been raised with or identified by the Board, it would be prudent to notify the manager in question in order to make them aware that all isn’t well. An employer who sets the scene and maintains a paper trail will be better placed to have further conversations down the line about the tenability of the manager’s position.

“The employee may still be unwilling to accept their shortcomings so there is no guarantee that they will jump before they are pushed. Many will instead stick around to find out what, if anything, the employer might offer them to part company on mutually agreeable terms.”


Resignations: a turning point

Commenting on the Prime Minister’s resignation, Dave Chaplin, CEO of tax compliance firm IR35 Shield said:

“[The] resignation by Boris Johnson must now be a turning point for the Conservatives to win back trust and appoint a leader surrounded by ministers who genuinely want to level the playing field and work with small businesses and freelancers to help them to thrive.

“The UK economy’s greatest asset is its highly skilled freelance workforce and but for far too long, the Tory party and government that purports to support and celebrate entrepreneurship have interfered in the form of onerous employment and tax legislation that is stressful to navigate for freelancers and the firms that hire them.

“The Off-payroll reforms that were rolled out into the private sector in April 2021, and introduced by the Conservative Government, are anti-business and are creating a very negative behavioural effect for UK plc.  Many contractors who can work remotely are now turning their backs on the UK, and just working remotely for overseas firms, making it much harder for UK firms to secure the talent they need to grow. And UK firms are pushing work offshore.

“The best way to stimulate economic growth is for government to stop legislating and step aside, allowing businesses to embrace the benefits of the flexible workforce and contractors and freelancers the freedom to contract.

“Whilst the new incoming PM will have a lot on his plate, I would urge him or her to acknowledge that highly-skilled, flexible knowledge workers who deliver their services on an as-needed basis enable UK businesses to grow faster and help entrepreneurs instantly ‘skill up’ their workforces to take advantage of new opportunities.”







Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.