How To Deal With A Verbal Resignation


Verbal resignations given in the ‘heat of the moment’ should never be accepted as there have been many unfair dismissal cases won on these grounds.

If the employee was angry or upset, the decision may have been rash and the employee might regret it. In these circumstances it’s important to give the employee a cooling off period during which they may decide to retract their resignation.

If the employee makes it clear during the cooling off period that they did not intend to resign, you must give them their job back. Refusal would amount to dismissal, which would probably be unfair.

My recommended approach would be to:

  • Allow the employee to calm down and collect their thoughts;
  • Telephone the employee within a reasonable period of time to invite them to a meeting to discuss the circumstances that led up to their resignation, bearing in mind that making enquiries on the same day is likely to be too soon;
  • Make a record of the events that took place, including the employee’s explanation of events; and
  • Once the employee has confirmed their intentions, send the employee a letter setting out what took place and confirming whether the resignation stands or has been withdrawn.
If you do not hear from the employee within the specified time period then you may write to them and acknowledge their resignation and confirm their final pay. In these circumstances their leaving date would be recorded as the last date that they actually worked.

The letters should be sent to the last known address of the employee by first class post, there is no legal requirement to send them by recorded mail.

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The Terminating the Employment Relationship folder provides a comprehensive range of documents relating to lay off and short time working, redundancy, providing references for ex employees and voluntary resignations. There are also a range of How to Guides that deal with unusual situations such as what to do when an employee resigns in the heat of the moments and how to deal with women who are pregnant or on maternity leave when you are making staff redundant.

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How To Deal With A Verbal Resignation