Resignation in Haste*
This issue arose in case ADJ00022430.
The Adjudication Officer in setting out the law on the issue of a heat of the moment resignation referred to the case of Millet –v- Shinkwin 2004 ELR319 where the Court determined;
“That where an employee makes a decision to resign which is not fully informed because he/she is not in a position to fully evaluate his/her options or he/she may act on a misinterpretation of something which is said or done and the situation is still retrievable, it would be unreasonable for an employer to deny an employee an opportunity to recant within a reasonable time once the true position becomes clear as such a denial may in the circumstances amount to a dismissal”,
The Adjudication Officer pointed out that there is a significant body of authority for the proposition that there are exceptions to the general rule that where a person resigns in clear and unambiguous terms that this is unconditional. The Adjudication Officer quoted the case of Kwik-Fit (GB) Ltd –v- Lineham 1992 IRLR156 at paragraph 31 where it was said;
“If words of resignation are unambiguous then prima facie an employer is entitled to treat them as such, but in the field of employment, personalities constitute an important consideration.
Words may be spoken or actions expressed in temper or in the heat of the moment or under extreme pressure (“being jostled into a decision”) and indeed the intellectual makeup of the individual may be relevant (see Barclay 1983 IRLR313). These refer to as “special circumstances”. Where “special circumstances” arise, it may be unreasonable for an employer to assume a resignation and to accept it forthwith. A reasonable period of time should be allowed to lapse and if circumstances arise during that period which put the employer on notice that further enquiry is desirable to see whether the resignation was really intended and can properly be assumed then such inquiry is ignored at the employers risk. He runs the risk that ultimately evidence may be forthcoming which indicates that in the “special circumstances” the intention to resign was not the correct interpretation when the facts are judged objectively”.
It is helpful that this statement of the law has been set out by the Adjudication Officer.
*Before acting or refraining from acting on anything in this guide, legal advice should be sought from a solicitor.
**In contentious cases, a solicitor may not charge fees or expenses as a portion or percentage of any award of settlement.