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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

Daniel Overton & Goulding

We offer a wide range of legal services and advice to our clients who come to us with a number of different legal issues. In all instances we strive to get our clients the best advice and outcome. Come to our experienced and knowledgeable team about any legal issue and if we cannot find the answer we will be able to get you the right expert who will get you the right advice, and get you the best result. This is a vital part of our client care.

Region: Auckland

Phone: 09 6222 222

Sandford & Partners Lawyers

We are a medium sized Rotorua law firm practicing in areas of business and property law, public law and personal legal services.

We are professionals who listen, who seek to understand your needs, and give practical and usable advice. We thrive on the challenge of providing excellent legal work and aim to give you the highest level of service. For us, working for you means dealing with the little details as well as the big picture.

Region: Bay of Plenty

Phone: 07 348 6039

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. Today’s partners are Ross Revington, Adam Simperingham, Jeff Allen and Ellie FitzGerald.

Region: Gisborne

Phone: 06 869 0900

NZ LAW Limited

NZ LAW Limited is an association of independent legal practices with member firms located throughout New Zealand. There are currently 53 member firms practising in a wide range of legal disciplines ranging from business law, home buying and selling, immigration law and intellectual property to aviation law and viticulture.

The group was established in 1992 when about five law firms met in Auckland to find a way to benefit their clients by replicating the conviviality and the sharing of ideas and expertise that occurs in larger law firms, but still be able to retain client confidentiality and their own independence.

Region: Hawke's Bay

Phone: 06 835 5299

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

Dorrington Poole

Dorrington Poole Lawyers has a long tradition in Dannevirke and was founded in 1914 by Percy Dorrington. The firm still acts for families of some of the earliest clients. The long term relationship with those clients gives continuity in a fast changing world.

The firm provides quality legal services within New Zealand for its rural, commercial and private clients. We provide services for clients not only in the Southern Hawkes Bay/Tararua area but also throughout the country.

Region: Manawatu - Wanganui

Phone: 06 374 7089

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

Thomson Wilson

Thomson Wilson is a full service law firm based in Whangarei. We’ve been trusted lawyers for the Northland community and beyond for 75 years.

We act for individuals and families, businesses, public sector and other organisations. Whether you need no-fuss advice on a simple matter, or a team of legal experts. 

Our staff provide advice in most areas of the law, including property law, business law, trusts and estates, separation and divorce, resource management, criminal law and more.

We also offer expertise in specialist areas such as Maori land, local government law, farming and forestry.

Region: Northland

Phone: 09 430 4380

Aspiring Law

As one of the leading general practice law firms in Wanaka, the wider Upper Clutha and Central Otago Lakes district, our job is to explain both of our respective roles in managing your legal matters.

We’re a friendly group of people and our philosophy is based on three simple principles to make sure you avoid messy, lengthy, and costly legal issues:

  • Don’t leave anything to chance - certainty provides peace of mind
  • Seek expert advice - it really is the best and most cost-effective thing you can do
  • Ask for that advice early - it will be cheaper for you in the long term

Region: Otago

Phone: 03 443 0900

Sheddan Pritchard Law Ltd

Incorporating traditional values and a fresh perspective, Sheddan Pritchard Law is here to assist you with all your legal needs. 

Our friendly and team-driven approach underpins our firm’s values, recognising the importance of putting people first and allows us to connect and nurture professional relationships with new and existing clients within our local community of Gore, as well as throughout New Zealand and extending overseas.

Region: Southland

Phone: 03 209 0030

Welsh McCarthy

Welsh McCarthy practises in Hawera, South Taranaki. Predominant industries in the South Taranaki district are dairy farming, oil and gas. The South Taranaki area also has the largest one-site multi product milk processing facility in the world

We deal with company and commercial transactions, commercial and family law, farm and residential sales and purchases, estate planning and family and charitable trusts. A large part of the firm also deals in the area of family law.

Region: Taranaki

Phone: 06 278 5039

Edmonds Judd

Edmonds Judd is based in Te Awamutu with an office in Otorohanga and continues to proudly serve the Waikato District as it has done for over 100 years. Known as a firm that generations of families have relied on and looked to for advice and assistance in both the good times and the bad, Edmonds Judd is the friendly and trusted name in legal services. Blending experience with cutting edge technology, which is rivalled only by the level of service and satisfaction which is provided to its loyal clients. Edmonds Judd’s friendly staff are more than happy to assist you in any enquiry you may have.

We will provide you with:

  • Smart and innovative legal thinking
  • Plain and simple language, instead of legal jargon
  • Decades of knowledge and broad perspectives from our widely experienced team
  • Access to the resources and skills of the NZ LAW group that Edmonds Judd is a member of.
  • You’ll have the knowledge of over 55 independent law firms behind you.

Region: Waikato

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

Gillespie Young Watson

We specialise in Property, Commercial and Trust Law. When it comes to law firm size we are bigger than smaller and smaller than big. By limiting the work we do to our specialist areas, we like to think we bring together the best of big firm skill sets with the personal care, attention and relationships of small firms.

We expect our clients to receive clear, practical and timely advice. We place a premium on accessibility and convenience to our clients. We value and appreciate all of our clients and want to do the best possible job for each of them. When we close a file we want the client to feel they have received exceptional advice, service and value.

Region: Wellington

Phone: 04 569 3997

Hannan & Seddon

The Law Firm of Hannan & Seddon dates back to September 1867.

The firm's offices were in Werita Street from 1867 until 1982 when the firm moved to Tarapuhi Street and then to its current spacious premises at 61 Guinness Street in 1998.

The name Hannan comes from Mr Michael Hannan whose son John Hannan (Jack) joined the firm in 1908. Jack Hannan remained in partnership until he passed away in 1974 at the age of 90!

The name Seddon comes from Mr T E Y Seddon (son of Premier Richard John Seddon from Kumara) who joined the firm in the 1920's. The other prominent Solicitor at Hannan & Seddon was Cyril McGinley who joined the firm in the late 1920’s and retired as a Consultant in 1997 aged 87.

Currently we have two Partners within our firm. Tony Sullivan who has been with us for 29 years and Colin Smith, 26 years. The firm also has two long serving Legal Executives Elaine Knowles and Beverley Walsh.  

Region: West Coast

Phone: 03 768 4169

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