What is the impact of a resignation made in the heat of the moment?
Clashes between employees at work are sometimes just bound to happen and even the best employers cannot help or control situations arising between members of staff. Training and team building exercises are a great way to help encourage staff to bond and deal with issues and avoid situations escalating to arguments occurring between employees. That being said, no matter how well versed an employer is and how much they try to mitigate the risk of matters getting out of control, sometimes this is just not enough.
Having employees who do not see eye-to-eye for one reason, or another is a common issue experienced by employers. Unfortunately, it is sometimes inevitable that frequent heated discussions lead to arguments.
Frequent heated discussions can sometimes be about typically trivial matters, but the issue is when it escalates to an argument that gets out of hand and an employee runs off and makes a statement that they have had enough and resign in the heat of the moment.
Now whilst at the time it seems obvious that the employee has made a clear decision, what is the position if the employee changes their mind shortly after?
Has the notice been validly given?
The first point to consider is whether the notice has been validly given. If employee’s contract of employment states that they are to give notice in writing, then by simply saying the words “I resign” or “here’s my notice” 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 be enough.
Withdrawal of notice
If notice has been validly given by the employee, the usual position is that once tendered, it cannot be withdrawn unless of course, you agree to allow for it to be withdrawn.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 expresses 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.
We would recommend that if you have an employee who is distressed or left in a highly emotive state as a result of an incident between another employee, that you allow them some time off away from work so that they can appropriately reflect on the situation and make an informed decision about their future employment.
You may also wish to offer them support by offering an alternative to resigning. For example, seeking whether workplace mediation can assist with resolving the issues and build the relationship between the employees.
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.