An employee can resign unilaterally, i.e. you do not need as an employer to “accept” their resignation for it to be valid.
However the basic position is that the employee does not have the right to unilaterally withdraw their resignation once given. This is because it is now a “request to be employed” which both parties must want.
You can consider their request, and may allow them to retract, but you can also continue to “accept” it and the employee has to deal with the consequences of their actions.
If the resignation was made in the heat of the moment, then you should give the situation a couple of days to cool off. Then make a final decision as to whether the employee really meant to resign or not. If you do not allow a cooling-off period and immediately accept a resignation made in these circumstances, then a tribunal may decide that the employee did not in fact resign, but was dismissed. This is only the case for spur of the moment resignations; normal resignations can be “accepted” immediately.
If you are actually relieved that the employee has resigned, and it is no “heat of the moment” resignation, you are free to accept the resignation and breathe a sigh of relief!
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Posted in: Contracts of Employment