When an employee resigns

Resignations in the heat of the moment


Sometimes an employee may say that they are resigning after an argument with their manager or another colleague. In such situations they might not really have meant to resign.

If this is the case, it is dangerous to act as though the contract has ended because the employee could later claim unfair or constructive dismissal. Read more on dismissing employees.

If an employee seems to have resigned or has walked out after an argument:

  • Don't immediately assume they have resigned.
  • Give the employee a 'cooling off' period.
  • Take action to find out whether they really meant to resign.
  • If you can't contact them, wait a reasonable time before confirming that their resignation has been accepted.
  • Investigate further if you receive additional information relating to the situation, eg that they may have been bullied by a colleague/their manager. Read more on bullying and harassment.

You should also be careful not to say things in the heat of the moment that could be misinterpreted as a dismissal.

It is a good idea to train managers in handling conflict. This can help to resolve any workplace problems straight away, rather than allowing them to escalate to the point where formal procedures need to be applied. Read more on managing conflict.

  • LRA Workplace Information Service
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  • LRA