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“I quit!”, “I’m not doing this anymore!”, “You can stick your job!”…if you’ve heard those words before you may have been keen to accept the resignation.

In a recent case, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has given useful guidance on how to deal with resignations ‘in the heat of the moment’


As is often the case, there was a heated altercation between the employee and their manager. The employee resigned and later tried to retract it saying it was in the ‘heat of the moment’. The employer disagreed and ended his employment – the employee claimed unfair dismissal.

The EAT provided useful guidance on what employers should consider in the circumstances:

Objectivity – you should always consider objectively the words used to resign in the circumstances; the language used, what you think the employee wanted to communicate and how the recipient interpreted the resignation.

‘Reasonable bystander’ – if someone was watching the individual resign in the heat of the moment, would they view the resignation as ‘seriously meant’, ‘really intended’ or ‘rational’? If the answer to any of those is no, it’s unlikely to be a legitimate resignation in those circumstances.

Future intention – an employee stating they intend to, or might resign in future is also not enough. It has to be understood that the individual is actually resigning at that moment.

Retracting a resignation – assuming it has been effectively given, the EAT confirmed that a notice of resignation cannot be retraced unless the employer agrees.

If you’re ever unsure, always take advice early to avoid a potentially unfair dismissal. Intelligent Employment provides access to unlimited day-to-day advice for exactly these reasons – get in touch to find out more!
This update is accurate on the date it was published, but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.