The news in NI is dominated by the fall-out of the resignation of First Minister Paul Givan.  Mr Givan said his resignation would be effective as of midnight on the day he made the announcement (3/2/2022) – effectively an immediate resignation. Whilst people much more qualified than me will have to deal with that “issue” I can use it as inspiration for you my readers.

So what to do when an employee resigns with immediate effect?

  • First of all – ideally ask the employee to put it in writing.  This can be as simple as ” I am resigning, Joe Bloggs”.  Or it can be a more detailed letter.
  • Next if the employee is resigning “with immediate effect” that means they are refusing to work out any notice period.  (What that notice period will be is dependent on their contract – a topic for another blog).
  • This means that the date of the resignation (either verbal or in writing) is the last working day of the employee and therefore their “effective date of termination”.
  • As the employer, you want to acknowledge and accept the resignation in writing.
  • In your letter of acceptance, you want to refer to no notice period being worked, confirm the last date of employment and explain that payment and wages will be processed up to and including that date.  Advise when final payments will be made, that final payments will include any accrued but not used holiday entitlement; any arrangements for the return of company property; and that the P45 will be issued after final payments.
  • If the employee is bound by any contractual terms you should also include this in your letter of acceptance.

A word of caution – when an employee resigns with immediate effect, experience tells me it can indicate one of two things:

  1. either the employee has willingly disregarded their notice obligations for no reason other than they want to move on; or
  2. the employee is resigning in anger and may potentially be arguing a case of constructive dismissal.  If you suspect it is the latter, I strongly encourage you to seek professional advice as the actions you take at this stage can significantly reduce your risk and exposure.  Again, this is a topic for another day.

The other thing to be aware of is the little known practice of “cooling off period” for resignations.  This is used in specific circumstances where resignations are given in haste and often in the midst or immediately after an altercation in the workplace.  Think of the scene, where there is an argument and the employee walks out throwing the office keys on the table as they bang the door shouting “I’ll not be back”.  A real “argument”.  In these circumstances, it is advisable to wait a reasonable period (5 working days) to see of the employee changes their mind.

This “story” is long enough so I will leave you with this final thought.  Employers need to be cautious about accepting resignations too quickly (even if you want to), especially when an employee is clearly acting in the heat of the moment. A hastily accepted resignation may in fact be a dismissal and, if no procedure is followed, could result in unfair dismissal.

If this sounds familiar and you are dealing with a resignation, immediate or with notice and you want to get a second opinion on what steps you need to take, I’d love to help you via a HR Mentoring call.  You can book one here.

I’d love to help.

Johanna xo

PS. For 2022 I have set myself the challenge of working with 100 small business owners to implement employee contracts in their business. If you want to be one of my 100 stars, then reach out and book a discovery call here.  Or contact me here.

Ways  I can help you right now: 

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