The case of Secretary of State for Justice v Hibbert illustrates the point that, when an employee writes to their employer stating ‘I have no alternative but to resign my position’, their resignation is deemed to take effect at that time.
What does this ruling mean?
The fact that there had been subsequent correspondence suggesting a ‘cooling off’ period and the employer had stated that her employment would terminate at the end of the four week notice period provided by her contract did not change the effective date of termination. The words ‘I have no alternative but to resign my position’ were said to have the same meaning as ‘I am resigning now’. There was no question, in this case, of the employee having taken a decision in the heat of the moment or of being pressurised into a decision by the employer and this was not a case of the employer refusing to accept the employee’s decision to resign. This was a constructive dismissal case.
What action should employers take?
It would be prudent for employers to seek expert legal advice if one of its employees resigns following a breakdown in the employment relationship.