The Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) sets out a number of notice periods that an employee needs to give if they tender their resignation. However, can an employee resign with immediate effect? The case of The Standard Bank of South Africa Limited v Nombulelo Cynthia Chiloane (Case No. JA85/18) [2020] ZALAC (5 November 2020) answers this question.

Facts Of This Case Dealing With Resignation

The employee was given notice to attend a disciplinary hearing for misconduct. The charge against the employee was that she had cashed a cheque without following proper procedures.

On the day that the employee received the notice to attend the disciplinary hearing, she tendered her “resignation with immediate effect”. The employer assumed that the employee had to serve four-weeks notice period. The employee argued that her letter of “resignation with immediate effect” ended the employment relationship completely.

The hearing continued in her absence and the employee was subsequently found guilty and a sanction of summary dismissal was imposed.

The employee approached the Labour Court on the legal point that the contract had ended on her immediate resignation. The Labour Court found that once an employee hands in her resignation, which indicates that the resignation is with immediate effect, the employment relationship comes to an immediate end. The employer has no right to insist that the employee serves his/her notice period.

The Labour Court found the disciplinary hearing was therefore “null and void”.

On appeal to the Labour Appeal Court (LAC), the LAC stated that in the event of either party terminating their relationship, the giving of four weeks’ notice was still applicable.

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