That's It - I Quit!!

Published: 19th July 2017


We have all heard stories of people who have made snap decisions to leave their jobs without notice.  In fact, there are probably moments in any career where the urge to say, “I Quit” and walk out are strong.

BUT - As an employer, how best to respond to a heat of the moment resignation?

It may be tempting to accept the resignation and carry on, but our advice would be to tread more carefully.  Having made a snap decision, it’s likely that emotions are running high.  The employee’s actions may have been prompted by treatment by management, fellow workers or external circumstances.

Our advice would be to try and find the employee/’s reason for leaving and allow them a “cooling off period” before the decision is made final. 

At worst, simply accepting a spur of the moment resignation could lead to an eventual tribunal claim.  It could be constructive dismissal if the reason for leaving is due to working conditions or co-worker behaviour (e.g. Bullying), or unfair dismissal if it was simply “the heat of the moment” and you refused to allow them to return once the situation had calmed.

Here are six tips to help you manage a spur of the moment resignation:

    • Don’t immediately assume they have resigned
    • Be careful not to say things when emotions are running high that could be misinterpreted as a dismissal
    • Give the employee a “cooling off period”
    • Write to the employee explaining non-acceptance of the resignation during the cooling off period expressing concern at their decision.  Invite them to a meeting to find the reason for their decision and to try and resolve conflict or dis-harmony
    • If there is no response, make further attempts to contact them to allow them to withdraw the resignation but at the same time stating a reasonable time-frame for a response and potential withdrawal.
    • Once the reasonable time-frame has expired, write to them again confirming that the resignation has been accepted

Naturally, if the employee responds during this process you need to investigate and address what triggered the decision in the first place.  If following the cooling off period the employee confirms their resignation decision, it should be accepted and you should request confirmation in writing.

When the resignation is finally accepted you will need to write a reply to the employee to confirm the date employment ended/ends and set out what will happen regarding final monies including days worked in the pay period and any accrued holiday which need to be paid. 

In these cases, prevention is always better than cure and we offer specific training and support to help managers handle conflict and difficult situations in the workplace so that problems are dealt with effectively and they aren’t allowed to escalate.

For more information about our HR support and people management training please contact our team on 01484 841776 or email