Can employees file for Immediate Resignation?

Labor Law Resignation 6 min read , November 14, 2020

Resignation is a tricky subject because different people have different ideas of how this should be treated. Some employees think that they can resign right now and get their last pay. Employers feel that they are entitled to a turnover period at least, so they can adjust to the sudden vacancy. What is the right way to handle this?

Take this question from one of my readers:

Hi Atty. Zag, There are number of employees who casually would just abandon their jobs even on a peak day - weekend (with and without verbal notice) and then one day, they will demand for their last pay. Some have tendered informal resignation by text or submit a resignation letter noting resignation as "effective immediately"(some of which was not even signed by them.) The damage of them abandoning their posts actually has a huge impact in our overall salon operation. How should we go about it? I'm a fair employer, I give what is rightfully theirs as much as I wanted justice for my own company. Your help will be appreciated very much.

I believe that this question captures how a lot of employers feel so it’s a good idea to take this as an example. We'll be discussing what you need to know about resignation in this article.

Staring out building windows
Photographer: Alex Knight | Source: Unsplash

Does the law allow “Immediate Resignation”?

First things first... there is no such thing as an "immediate resignation" in the way most employees imagine. Most employees think:

"Ok, I've decided to leave this job. When should I do it? Immediately I think...I’m either too sick of this current work or I have a better opportunity waiting for me somewhere else. I'm going to write “Immediate resignation” on my letter so I can leave now.“

This conclusion isn’t supported by the law, though. Let’s explore what the law has to say about it so everyone's on the same page.

Resignation is the employee’s right

First, the labor code recognizes that an employee has the right to resign anytime he wants. This is in line with the constitutional provision that no person should be subject to involuntary servitude (otherwise known as slavery). So let’s get that straight... employees have the option to resign at anytime they wish.

There is a right way to resign

Second, while employees have the right to resign, the law says that there is a proper way of doing this. Resigning employees are obligated to give a 30-day notice for their employees before they leave. This is not a requirement from the employers or a courtesy from the employees. The law itself obligates employees to stay for a period of 30 days before the last day. This allows the employer to:

  • receive the proper turnover of pending work from the resigning employee and distribute it to other workers.
  • find and train a replacement.
  • check if there are pending liabilities and process the clearance of the employee.
Photographer: Amy Hirschi | Source: Unsplash

The law makes the leaving employee accountable

Third, if the employee fails to provide this 30-day notice and leaves immediately, the employer is entitled by the law to charge any damages incurred against the employee during this 30-day period.

What do these damages look like? Well, it depends on your work, but let me cook up a few hypothetical examples:

  • Since the employee suddenly left, other employees had to pitch in to cover for his work and the company incurred overtime charges.
  • Since the employee suddenly left, he wasn’t able to turnover the inventory under his care. Turns out the inventory was perishable (meat at a restaurant) and the whole batch was left unusable.
  • Since he suddenly left in the middle of a bidding proposal campaign, the company lost the bid because he purposely didn’t reply to the client’s request for information.

There are just initial examples and would have to be dissected if the leaving employee was responsible, but I hope you get the idea. The law makes the resigning employee accountable for the fallout of their failure to give the 30-day notice.

Now, let’s tackle some questions I get about this.

Can you waive the 30-day Notice?

Yes, it is possible. But let’s make it clear that the option to waive the 30-day notice is on the employer, not the employee. This is based on the doctrine of management prerogative. If the employer feels that they don’t need the next 30 days, they can actually let the employee go earlier.

But again, let’s be clear. This is the choice of the management. The law provided the 30-day notice as a benefit or privilege of the employer, so they have a chance to adjust to the sudden vacancy. Therefore, it is the management’s right to avail of this or waive it as they see fit. The employee has no legal power to determine for themselves whether the 30-day notice is applicable to them. As such, there is no "immediate resignation" because the "immediate" nature of the turnover period is left to the discretion of the employer. I hope it makes sense?

Pro tip for employees: Guys, if you need to leave your current work earlier, it doesn’t hurt to ask nicely. Open up the topic with your boss and request formally that they allow you to leave earlier. Also, be professional and fix the things that you need to turnover so that they won’t have a hard time adjusting to your resignation.
Coffee Talks
Photographer: Joshua Ness | Source: Unsplash

Can management prevent good employees from resigning?

Nope, resignation is the employee’s right. They have the right to leave employment that they deem no longer suitable for them. In fact, even if you don't accept the resignation letter, the 30-day notice period begins from the time the resignation letter is tendered.

However, nothing prevents the management from talking to their employees about why they chose to resign and see if there’s a middle ground. Is it a salary issue? Workload? Co-worker situation? If they can fix it and the employee decides to stay, they can mutually disregard the resignation and have the worker continue working. No issues there.

Again, you can discuss and convince the employee to stay, but you cannot legally prevent them from resigning. That’s a legally protected right.

Are there circumstances where employees don't have to render 30 days?

Yes, but there are only specific cases where this applies. They don't cover the usual scenario we find in the workplace where it was the employee who decided to move on. I'll cover that in another article, this time around, it's a briefing sheet for employees who may be thinking of resigning.

Hope this helped!

Hope this article was able to help you understand resignations better. This topic usually gets asked when I discuss discipline and termination issues with employers. I am planning to create more materials to help with discipline issues in the future. But I need your help in sorting out what questions matter. There may be other stuff that you're grappling with but I missed. I want to help. I'm offering the chance to answer your questions in future materials and courses.

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