Resignation Notice: What are Employers’ rights and Employees’ obligations?

| Wednesday, October 4th, 2017 | No Comments »

Question:  I work for a Bank as Project Manager. I was hired as a contractual employee on a fixed salary for two years ending in December. My employment letter states that a four-week notice is required if I resign.  My manager told that I should look for a change as Bank may not be able to renew the contract.  I found a new job and have submitted my resignation with two weeks’ notice. Can my employer detain me for the remaining two weeks or deduct my salary in lieu of two weeks of notice?

Answer:  Many employees expect their employer to provide them with reasonable notice before their employment is terminated.  But few realize that the obligation to provide notice is a two-way street: employees are also required to provide their employer with prior notice of their intention to resign.  Under employment law, the employee’s failure to do so constitutes a “wrongful resignation.”

Contrary to popular belief, employees generally cannot resign whenever they wish by simply providing two weeks’ notice.  Rather, the length of notice an employee has to provide will usually be set out in an employment contract.  If there is no such contractual requirement, it will depend on the employee’s position, responsibilities, tenure, and the time it would reasonably take the employer to find a replacement.  Should an employee resign without providing the full notice of resignation they agreed to, the employer is entitled to sue for wrongful resignation.  Few employers follow through with this, however.

In your case, since you originally agreed to provide your employer with four weeks’ notice of resignation, leaving on only two weeks’ notice may have legal consequences.  While your employer cannot force you to work the remaining two weeks, or deduct your salary for those two weeks (unless you clearly agreed to that in writing), it may sue you for damages for wrongful resignation.  Specifically, your employer may try to recover any losses it suffered as a result of you leaving on short notice, including lost sales, the costs of hiring your replacement, and the cost of overtime worked by other employees.  You should consult an employment lawyer for specific advice about your legal options.

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