Many legal minds making NZ LAW work

We are an association of independent legal practices, proactively sharing ideas and expertise for the benefit of our clients.

Second thoughts

Published in: Commercial eSpeaking, Spring 2018. No 50

Second thoughts

What happens when your employee wants to retract their resignation?

We all know that people can sometimes say things in the heat of the moment which, on reflection, they didn’t really mean. What happens when your employee quits suddenly, perhaps by storming out of your workplace as a result of a disagreement? As an employer, can you take this as a resignation? What happens if your employee has a change of heart and wants to return to work?

Most employment agreements will provide a notice period that any employee must give when they want to end their employment. This allows you some time to find a replacement and make arrangements for the handover of work.

Sometimes, however, your employee may quit without giving any notice. This often happens after a disagreement or argument between an employer and employee, when you may be looking to investigate your employee’s performance or conduct, or perhaps a stressed employee reaches ‘breaking point’ and decides they can’t work another day in the role.

Sometimes your employee’s words and intentions are clear. For example, they may actually say, “I quit” or words to that effect. Sometimes, however, the situation is not so clear. What if your employee says, “I can’t take this anymore, I’m leaving” and walks out part-way through the working day? Is that a resignation?

 

What is their real intention?

For an employee to resign, they must unequivocally convey an intention to end their employment. Being absent from work briefly without explanation, or walking away to cool off, will generally not amount to a resignation. If there is any doubt as to the intention conveyed, you should be cautious before acting on an apparent resignation.

In the situation where they walk out halfway through the day, they may have intended to simply take the rest of the day off (rightly or wrongly) and return to work the next day. The easiest way to remove any doubt is to ask them. That is not always immediately possible, of course. But you should follow up with your employee at an appropriate time, which will often be after they have had some time to calm down.

 

Cooling-off

What happens if your employee cools off and wants to retract their ‘resignation’ and return to work? Can they do that?

The starting point is that if your employee has resigned, they cannot retract the resignation unless you agree. Employment law, however, acknowledges that often even very clear resignations are given in haste and are not truly intended by your employee. Such resignations are often given in stressful and high-tension situations such as those we’ve mentioned. Because of this, employees are entitled to a brief ‘cooling-off’ period. This allows them time and space to think about what they really want to do. In those situations, you would be obliged to allow your employee to return to work if they changed their mind within a short period. If you don’t accept your employee returning to work, your employee could have grounds to raise a personal grievance for unjustified dismissal.

 

Employees changing their minds

Employees who wish to change their minds following a stomping-off style resignation should not dally. If they did not intend to resign in the first place, but it becomes apparent their employer is treating their words or actions as a resignation, then they should also immediately let their employer know. Not acting promptly could mean it is too late to return to work.

How long can an employee have for cooling off? That will depend on the particular circumstances, but at least 24 hours should be allowed. If their ‘resignation’ occurs on a Friday, in most cases your employee should be allowed to return on the following Monday.

Our tips

If you have stormed off, or employ someone who has done this, then we suggest that:

  • Consider what was said. Was it definitely a resignation, or something less?
  • After an appropriate cooling-off period, if your employee has not made contact you should attempt to be in touch with them to check on their intentions. Your employee should notify you as soon as they think they may wish to return, and
  • If you cannot reach your employee after the cooling-off period, write to them recording their resignation and details of the end of their employment.

If you are faced with a change of heart, whether your own or from one of your employees, and you are unsure how to proceed, we have experts who can help.

  • Auckland
  • Bay of Plenty
  • Canterbury
  • Coromandel
  • Gisborne
  • Hawke's Bay
  • Kapiti Coast
  • Manawatu - Wanganui
  • Marlborough
  • Nelson
  • Northland
  • Otago
  • Southland
  • Taranaki
  • Waikato
  • Wairarapa
  • Wellington
  • West Coast

Mike Lucas Law

We are a small law firm based in the business hub of Manurewa, South Auckland, New Zealand.

We are delighted to have many clients in Manurewa and Manukau City, as well as in the wider Auckland region and New Zealand and abroad.

We think the best evidence of the value we add comes from our clients themselves. Our nomination and final position as First Runner up of the highly competitive and prestigious Regional Law Firm of the Year Award 2007 depended on our clients' endorsements of our work.

Region: Auckland

Phone: 09 269 2844

Rejthar Stuart Law

A long established law practice providing comprehensive and specialised legal advice and services to a diverse range of commercial and private clients.

Established in 1997 the firm has grown over the years to become a two solicitor, two legal executive firm representing both private and commercial clients.

Region: Bay of Plenty

Phone: 07 577 6565

Corcoran French

Corcoran French is a firm of Christchurch and North Canterbury lawyers with over 120 years experience in providing legal services to Christchurch and the wider Canterbury region. We have offices in Christchurch City and Kaiapoi. We can also meet you at shared offices at Akaroa.

We welcome new clients and are committed to building strong long-term relationships that are rewarding for our clients.

Region: Canterbury

Phone: 03 379 4660

Purnell Lawyers

There is nothing as inevitable as change. Since opening for business early last century, we at Purnell Lawyers have seen many changes both in name and in the people who have made up the members of our team. We have been privileged to have served the public throughout all of these times. 

We are confident that we will continue to bring top quality legal services to our clients well into the future.

Region: Coromandel

Phone: 07 868 8680

Woodward Chrisp

At Woodward Chrisp we strive to meet the needs of our clients by providing a wide range of high quality legal services within a supportive and collaborative environment.

Woodward Chrisp is the amalgamation of two long established Gisborne legal firms: Woodward Iles & Co and Chrisp and Chrisp. 

Region: Gisborne

Phone: 06 869 0900

Gifford Devine

For all life’s matters, the team at Gifford Devine have your back. Since 1896, our lawyers have been providing straight-talking, practical advice and advocacy to people, families and businesses in Hawke’s Bay.

As your legal champions, we’ll serve you as a trusted adviser, listen to your needs, offer plain English advice, and find a solution to get you the best possible outcome.

We have the expertise to identify potential legal issues, to help you make important decisions, and to realise your goals. We’re your legal champions for all reasons and at all stages of life.

Region: Hawke's Bay

Phone: 06 873 0420

BMC Lawyers

BMC lawyers has built a reputation for providing quality service and delivering real results. Our strength is our broad-ranging legal experience that gives us the ability to match clients with the right mix of legal skills for their particular needs.

Our legal professionals are passionate about what they do and work alongside a talented team of support and administration staff to make a real positive difference to our clients.”

Region: Kapiti Coast

Phone: 04 296 1105

Horsley Christie

Horsley Christie is a successful law firm based in Whanganui which offers a diverse range of legal services to the Whanganui Region and beyond and has done for over 100 years.

When you deal with Horsley Christie you do so in the knowledge that the firm is one of many law practices nationwide who are members of NZ LAW.

Region: Manawatu - Wanganui

Phone: 06 349 0090

Wain & Naysmith

Based in Blenheim, Wain & Naysmith Lawyers is a full service law firm, and a powerhouse for property, family and business law.

We pride ourselves in providing clear and cost effective legal solutions and practical advice for you, your family and your business.

Region: Marlborough

Phone: 03 520 6103

Knapps Lawyers

As a firm, we promise to look after you and treat you in a manner that we would expect to be treated by a professional services provider; we promise to use every available legal remedy available to us to resolve your issue and to do what you ask us to do in a timely manner.

We will hold in strict confidence all information that we acquire through our work for you and which concerns your business or personal information.  The only exceptions are where you authorise us to disclose such information or where we must do so by law.

Region: Nelson

Phone: 03 544 7888

Law North Limited

We pride ourselves on being a "general store" for most legal issues but also have several in-house experts in specialised areas including trusts, relationship property, business and property law.  No matter what your issue is - whether you are looking for trusted legal advisers to steer you through life, or you have a one-off problem to sort out - we would be pleased to help.

Law North Ltd provides a broad range of legal services across the Far North district from our base in Kerikeri.   We have operated in the area for over 100 years and have a long-standing history of providing legal services to a diverse client base, including businesses and private clients.   Our directors and their families have been part of the Bay of Islands community for several generations and remain committed to the area and its people.  We often call upon strong local knowledge to resolve issues for clients whilst remaining vigilant about client confidentiality.

Region: Northland

Phone: 09 407 7099

Wilkinson Rodgers Lawyers

Our specialists work together to provide clients with the full range of advice they need to achieve their desired results. If you're looking for specialist knowledge and advice, are a company or individual we can help you by making it easier for you to achieve your objectives.

Our area of expertise include, but not limited to;

  • Commercial
  • Community
  • Family Law
  • Home, Asset & Employment
  • Wills & Estates

Region: Otago

Phone: 03 477 9844

Cruickshank Pryde

We are proud to provide a full suite of legal services to the regions of Southland and Central Otago. With our offices, located in Invercargill, Gore and Queenstown, equipped with the latest modern technology, we can service wider New Zealand and international clients with ease. Our areas of expertise include commercial, rural, business, employment, family, criminal, property, resource management and estate planning law.

Region: Southland

Phone: 03 214 4069

Connect Legal Taranaki

Two of Taranaki’s longstanding legal firms, RMY Legal and Billings Lawyers, are merging to become Connect Legal Taranaki.

Connect Legal Taranaki will support the evolving needs of our valued clients and future clients throughout the region by offering extensive legal expertise under one roof. From April this year you’ll find the new look Connect Legal Taranaki in the former RMY Legal premises on Powderham Street.

Region: Taranaki

Phone: 06 769 8080

Norris Ward McKinnon

We are the Waikato’s leading provider of specialist legal services with a national and international perspective.

We provide tailored legal advice to meet the diverse needs of large and small corporates, public institutions, small and medium businesses, individuals and families.

We know that choosing a law firm is not an easy task. We work with our clients to listen, reassure, and resolve their problems simply and cost effectively. From our experience, the best way to do this is through developing understanding and long-term relationships with our clients. Our team of lawyers are highly regarded with a depth of experience that gives them the credibility that underpins Norris Ward McKinnon’s solid reputation in the legal market. Put simply, they are real people dealing with the real issues that affect our clients day-to-day.

Region: Waikato

Phone: 07 834 6000

Gawith Burridge

Gawith Burridge traces its history back to 1875 when Charles Gawith first set up his practice. Since then the firm has undergone many changes, including a merger between Gawith & Co and Burridge & Co in 1998 to form our current practice.

Our firm draws on the breadth of expertise available from some of the region’s most senior legal practitioners, as well as the skills of those who have moved here from larger corporate environments.

As a result, we provide clients with a comprehensive range of legal services right here in the Wairarapa. We can provide you with legal assistance whether you are an individual or a company, with everything from setting up a Will to selling your farming business. 

Region: Wairarapa

Phone: 06 370 0000

Greg Kelly Law Ltd

Greg Kelly Law Limited is a boutique Wellington law firm specialising in trust and elder law. Our practice areas are wills, estates and trusts.

We act for private and institutional clients establishing and administering trusts, wills and estates. We also provide quality advice to legal and accounting firms in New Zealand and overseas. In particular, we can assist with legal opinions, obtaining and resealing probate, and estate and trust litigation.

Region: Wellington

Phone: 04 499 5193

No firms in West Coast

All the information published on this website, or in any article herein is true and accurate to the best of the authors' knowledge. Information on this site should not be a substitute for legal advice. No liability is assumed by NZ LAW Limited, or individual NZ LAW member firms for losses suffered by any person or organisation relying directly or indirectly on information published on this site. Views expressed in any article are the views of the authors individually and do not necessarily reflect the view of NZ LAW or their member firms. Information appearing on this site may only be reproduced with prior approval from NZ LAW Limited Head Office, and credit being given to the source. © NZ LAW Limited