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Heat of the moment resignations

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Here’s a scenario: An employee and their boss get into a heated argument. Following the stand-off, the employee tells their boss to take their job and ‘stuff it’ and promptly storms out the door.

On the surface it might seem like a reasonably straightforward case – the employee has resigned.

Not quite…

Employment New Zealand [] has this to say about the matter – and it is worth reading:

Unintended resignation and cooling-off period

An employee might resign or say something that could be interpreted as a resignation, in the heat of the moment, for example, following an argument or when they are emotionally distressed.

What an employee should do

If an employee thinks that there is any chance that their employer might think they have resigned, when they haven’t, or don’t really want to, they should talk to their employer and correct this misunderstanding as soon as possible. If they don’t do this within a reasonable time, then it may be reasonable for the employer to act on the basis that they have resigned.

What an employer should do

An employer should always check with the employee whether they intend to resign. If it is a potential heat of the moment situation, the employer should allow at least 24 hours for the employee to cool off before they ask the employee to confirm whether they do want to resign. This will give the employee time to calm down and reflect and then:

– Withdraw their resignation
– Confirm that they didn’t intend to resign
– Confirm that they did intend to resign.

The employer should ask the employee to confirm what they want to do in writing. Accepting a heat of the moment resignation could have a negative effect on your business.

For example, if you accept the resignation while investigating either an alleged misconduct or performance situation, your organisation could face a claim of constructive dismissal if handled incorrectly. The employer must not just assume that the employee intended to resign in this situation.

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