When an employee decides to resign from their position it is important that you meet with the employee to find out the reason why. Where an employee resigns in the “heat of the moment” when they are upset or annoyed, they may not have made a rational decision and could regret it the next day. If you as the employer decide to not allow the employee retract their resignation you could potentially face an unfair dismissal claim down the line.

Key Advice

  • If an employee quits in the heat of the moment:
    • Don’t assume they have resigned.
    • Allow a “cooling off” period so the employee has time to calm down.
    • Take action to find out whether they really meant to resign.
    • If you cannot get in contact with the employee wait a period of time before confirming that you have accepted their resignation.
    • Ensure there are no underlying issues provoking the resignation. You may need to investigate further to see if there is any additional information that needs to be considered. e.g. any grievances, are they being bullied by another colleague or manager.
    • If there are any underlying issues you should seek to resolve these before accepting any resignation., either by offering the employee access to the company grievance procedure, or by informing them of the company bullying and harassment policy.
  • If the employee wants to retract their resignation:
    • Meet with them to find out why the resigned in the first place.
    • The employer should consider giving the employee the opportunity to retract their resignation after they have had time to calm down.
  • Always confirm any resignation in writing.
  • When any employment relationship is ending, whether it be at the initiative of the employee or employer, ensure that fair procedures are adhered to at all times.


Case Law

McCarthy v Gary O’Donovan (UD 2009/154)

The employee made a throwaway comment and the employer took this to mean he had resigned. The employee was given no opportunity to reconsider his options or explain himself and the Tribunal viewed this as a dismissal and awarded €22,000 to the employee.