Can an employee withdraw their resignation?

Published 12 December 2023 | 2 min read

Worker cries dismissal after employer's refusal

In the realm of employment, the situation can become murky when an employee attempts to withdraw their resignation. A recent case involving Stephen Gock and his employer, BNP Paribas, highlights the challenges that can arise when an employer refuses to accept a revoked resignation. The Fair Work Commission (FWC) had to intervene to determine the validity of Gock's claim for unfair dismissal.

Extended resignations

Gock's journey began when he tendered his resignation on April 13, 2022. What ensued was a series of extended resignations and, eventually, a letter expressing concerns and demands, including the withdrawal of his resignation. The employer, BNP Paribas, stuck to its stance, asserting that Gock had resigned through three valid and binding letters.

Legal requirements

The New Zealand employment landscape echoes similar sentiments. Employees have the right to resign at any time, initiating a process that involves notice, final pay calculations, and property handovers. However, the intricacies lie in the acceptance of resignations and the possibility of withdrawal.

An employer, upon receiving notice of resignation, must confirm the notice period, and while accepting a resignation is not a formal requirement, misunderstandings can arise. The scenario becomes even more complicated when an employee unintentionally resigns in the heat of the moment, leading to the need for a cooling-off period.

Fair Work Commission's verdict

In Gock's case, the FWC determined that the signed letters were valid and enforceable. The failure in this instance was the lack of evidence to support the claim of revoking the resignation. This case serves as a cautionary tale for both employees and employers regarding the importance of clarity and proper communication during the resignation process.

Clarity and communication is key

If an employee finds themselves in a situation where their resignation might be misinterpreted or wishes to withdraw it, open communication is key. Employers should check with the employee to confirm their intentions and allow a cooling-off period, especially if the resignation stems from a heated moment.

The employer's role is crucial; they should seek written confirmation from the employee about their decision to withdraw the resignation. This not only clarifies the employee's stance but also protects the employer from potential legal ramifications.

In conclusion, navigating the nuances of resignation and withdrawal requires a delicate balance of communication and documentation. Learning from cases like Gock's and understanding the guidelines provided by Employment New Zealand can help employers, managers, and HR professionals create a smoother process for resignations and withdrawals in the Kiwi workplace.

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