Tags – How To Deal With Heat of the Moment Resignations

When an employee resigns in the heat of the moment, whether in an argument or under pressure in a difficult work situation, the employer must act with caution before relying on the resignation.

One reason being, is when the employee resigns while they were angry or upset, it might not have been a rational decision.

In these circumstances, managers should consider retracting the resignation once the employee has had time to calm down.

And, those who do not allow employees to retract heat of the moment resignations, could be at risk of an unfair discrimination claim.

For example, let’s say an employee resigns in frustration over childcare arrangements – there could be a discrimination claim here. 

Similarly, if the employee has an underlying health condition, disability discrimination may apply.

When to Treat With Caution

Arguably, it would be risky for a manager to rely on a heat of the moment resignation without further investigation.

And, when an employee uses ambiguous words such as ‘I quit’ or ‘I resign’ during the course of a heated argument, managers should be aware if there are special circumstances that have resorted to this. 

For instance, where it is clear the employee is under extreme pressure – whether work related or not – it’s sensible to allow for a cooling off period. 

Next Steps

If an employee resigns in a circumstance like above, allow reasonable time to elapse before accepting resignation at face value; usually a day or two is sufficient.

Doing so, gives you time to probe the employee for more details before making a decision.

With this in mind, if the employee’s intentions are not clear cut, arrange a meeting to hear their thoughts once they have calmed down, so you’re better placed to take the next step.

It’s worth noting, a hasty resignation note that has been jotted down, rather than a verbal ‘I quit’, should be treated in the same way.

Final Thoughts

Overall, this guide reinforces the need for a cooling off period and clear communication with the employee once the heat of the moment has passed.

Consequently, ambiguity can lead to misunderstandings and costly legal battles, so resist the strong temptation to accept the resignation at the time, as it could be the wrong decision.

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