Employees – for a variety of reasons – resign. Some, after reflection, have a change of heart after they have given more thought to it. They then want to retract their resignations. What position does this leave you in, as the employer? Do you have to accept this retraction?

Resignation is a unilateral act. In other words, you – as the employer – do not have any part to play in this. Resignations are an action committed solely by the employee.

All that is left after they communicate their decision to resign is the notice period regulated either by your contract of employment or the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA).

However, if an employee resigns but then decides to retract his or her resignation are you, the employer, entitled to refuse to accept the retraction? If you follow this course of action have you, in fact, dismissed the employee? The case of African National Congress v Municipal Manager, George Local Municipality and Other [2010] 3 BLLR 221 (SCA) provides clarity:

• In this case it was held that “resignation must be effective immediately, or from a specified date, and being a unilateral legal act, it does not need to be accepted by the intended recipient to be effective”.

• When the employee tendered her resignation, it did not matter that the employer sought to place a condition on the resignation, or whether it accepted the resignation or not at all.

Be careful of hasty decisions regarding your resignation. You might never be able to retract it.

Contact Global Business Solutions about resignations

Our team of lawyers and labour law experts are on hand to help you with any issues surrounding resignations. Contact Justine Weddell and the team by following this link.