Real Employment Law Advice

Resignation in the heat of the moment

We know that sometimes even the best employers cannot help situations arising between members of staff. Training and team building exercises are a great way to help encourage staff to deal with issues to avoid situations like arguments occurring between employees but sometimes this just is not enough. 

You will know that it is not uncommon to have employees who just do not see eye-to-eye for one reason or another with frequent heated discussions leading to arguments.

Although there are times where the facts leading up to and surrounding an argument may be trivial, what is the position if an employee declares that they have had enough and resigns in the heat of the moment and did not really mean it?

Has the notice been validly given?

The first point to consider is if the notice has been validly given. If the employment contract states that the employee is to give notice in writing, then by simply saying the words “I resign” is not enough.

If on the other hand the contract does not specify the method in which notice should be given, then verbal notification may suffice.

Withdrawal of notice

If notice has been validly given the usual position is that once tendered, it cannot be withdrawn unless of course, you agree to allow for it to be withdrawn. There is however an exception to this and that is resignations made in the heat of the moment.

Resignations in the heat of the moment

Resignations in heat of the moment are an exception to the rule in relation to withdrawal of notice and so if a situation arises at work and an employee tenders their resignation in the heat of the moment, this will not be considered as sufficient even if the resignation was clear and unambiguous.

Recommendations for employers

Although on the face of it, it may seem clear that an employee has resigned we would recommend that you always give your employees an opportunity to reconsider their resignation, especially if it is done in the heat of the moment.

If the notice is given in the “heat of the moment”, we would suggest that you give your employee a reasonable amount of time to cool off and consider whether they really wish to resign as this could help avoid a potential constructive dismissal claim.

The emphasis here is on good employee relations and giving them an opportunity to reconsider not only shows support and reasonableness but it also signposts potential underlying issues in the workplace that need addressing.


Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash

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The information contained in this blog post is provided for guidance and is a snapshot of the law at the time it is written. It is provided for your information only and should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice that it specific to your particular circumstances.

The guidance should not be relied upon in any decision making process. It is strongly recommended that you seek advice before taking action.


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