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Topic: Termination

response to "heat of the moment" resignation
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Response to "heat of the moment" resignation

Response to “heat of the moment” resignation

Resignations given in anger by employees “in the heat of the moment” are not usually binding because of the pre-existing circumstances in which they were given, so it’s not safe to treat them as valid. Likewise, where an employee resigns in writing but raises a litany of complaints, it’s not safe to simply leave the position as it is. In both cases, you need to meet with the employee to try and sort out the problem.

Heat of the moment

Sometimes an employee will resign “in the heat of the moment”. This is common where there has been an argument or disagreement at work and the employee’s immediate response is to verbally resign and then walk out of the workplace in a fit of temper. Many resignations given in the heat of the moment are not legally valid because of the fraught circumstances in which they were given. If you therefore purport to immediately “accept” such a resignation (and to act accordingly) without having given the employee the reasonable opportunity to calm down first and confirm their position, you are at risk of converting the situation into one of an express dismissal by you. Usually, a day or so is a sufficiently reasonable time to allow the employee to calm down. If they then still want to resign, that’s their choice.

List of complaints

In addition, some resignation letters sent by employees will be explicit and set out the employee’s list of alleged grievances which has led to their resignation. It’s common for this type of resignation letter to also state that the employee is leaving with immediate effect and will not be working out their notice period. The employee’s resignation letter may not have been written “in the heat of the moment” as such but nevertheless it’s not safe to simply leave the position as it is because of the risk of a constructive dismissal claim.


When either of the above situations occurs, the key is to make contact with the employee as a matter of urgency to try and resolve the issues which led to their verbal or written resignation. This will necessarily involve meeting to discuss their complaints or grievances. Our Response to “Heat of the Moment” Resignation should be sent to the employee on the same day they either walked out or submitted their written resignation and it assumes that your meeting with them will be a grievance meeting. The sooner you can resolve the issues with your employee, the more likelihood of your being able to retrieve the situation and minimise the risk of them later issuing employment tribunal proceedings for constructive dismissal.


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