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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

Lowndes Jordan

Lowndes Jordan is a top niche law firm committed to service excellence, achieved through our dedication to understanding our clients' individual needs and requirements, developing tailored solutions and following through to ensure results are delivered.

Our commitment to quality is supported by being the first ISO 9001 certified law firm in New Zealand.

Lowndes Jordan has access to some of the nation's foremost legal and business advisory experts, allowing us to provide a full range of inputs to assist you in meeting your objectives.

We serve a wide range of clients including listed companies, multinationals, privately held companies, entrepreneurs and business individuals.

All clients have direct access to specialist partners and client service teams comprised of senior practitioners.

Region: Auckland

Phone: 09 309 2500

Kaimai Law Limited

Kaimai Law Bethlehem has been based in Bethlehem, Tauranga for nearly a decade, and our new office at The Lakes opened in March 2017.  The majority of lawyers in our professional team at Kaimai Law Bethlehem & Kaimai Law The Lakes has 10 to 30+ years of experience in their respective fields, which means that they have the knowledge required to give you legal advice you can trust. 

Kaimai Law Bethlehem & Kaimai Law The Lakes specialise in all property matters including conveyancing, finance and subdivisions, as well as family law, commercial law, estate planning, estate administration, trusts, wills, employment law and relationship property. Kaimai Law Bethlehem & The Lakes are your one stop law shops in Tauranga.

Region: Bay of Plenty

Phone: 07 579 3316

Argyle Welsh Finnigan

Argyle Welsh Finnigan is a leading law firm in Ashburton,  the town servicing mid Canterbury, New Zealand.

The firm employs a team of over 25 legal professionals, including three Senior Associate Solicitors, three Staff Solicitors and five Legal Executives.  Our firm provides quality legal services with a commitment to our clients and to understanding their individual needs and requirements. 

With more than one hundred years of combined legal experience, we are able to offer prompt and professional advice on a wide range of legal matters.

Region: Canterbury

Phone: 03 308 8228

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

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

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

RMY Legal

Having been a cornerstone in the New Plymouth and Taranaki legal community since the 1930s we offer in-depth knowledge coupled with legal expertise and always put the needs of you and your business at the heart of what we do.

Not only do we offer a first class service to clients throughout Taranaki, we are passionate about what we do and our success stems from delivering advice in clear and understandable terms.

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

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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