It was the heat of the moment. Things were just not going right at work and you felt like you just couldn’t take it any more and so, on an impulse, you said ‘I quit.’
At first it felt great. It was like a scene out of a movie. But then you got home. Your emotions began to cool down and reality started to settle in. You still have bills coming due and you won’t be able to count on a severance cheque to pay them. You have no job lined up and you realize the job you just quit really wasn’t all that bad. Maybe quitting wasn’t the best idea. Now what?
Can you retract a resignation?
Once you’ve quit your job is it possible to take it back? Can you ever rescind a resignation? Fortunately, sometimes the answer is yes.
Your ability to retract a resignation will depend primarily on the circumstances at the time of your resignation and how quickly you attempt to rescind your resignation.
If you have a change of heart about resigning from your job, the sooner you let your employer know that you have made a mistake and would like to keep your job, the greater the chance you will be able to successfully retract your resignation.
Factors impacting your ability to retract a resignation
Courts are sensitive to the circumstances surrounding a resignation. They understand that people can sometimes act irrationally when emotions run high and they therefore take a contextual approach when deciding if a resignation can be retracted. Given the vulnerability of unemployment, they often rule in favour of the employee.
Generally speaking, there are three factors that impact whether or not you will be able retract your resignation:
1. Clear and unequivocal intent to resign
Did your actions and words clearly indicate that you wanted to resign? Your ability to retract a resignation will depend largely on the circumstances at the time of your resignation and at the time you attempt to rescind your resignation. If you have resigned in a clear an unequivocal manner, you may still be able to rescind your resignation, but you’ll have to act fast.
2. Whether your employer has been affected to their detriment
Have they invested time or resources into hiring someone new or managing your absence? Your best bet is to rescind it before your employer expressly accepts your resignation. If your employer has already accepted your resignation, the chances of you being able to successfully rescind it will have diminished. However, you may still be able to take it back if your employer has not yet relied on your resignation to their detriment. This means they haven’t taken actions like starting the hiring process or rearranging resources to compensate for your departure.
3. Compromising circumstances
Was your resignation given with a clear mind or under the influence of emotional stress?
If things are heated, take a little time to cool off and reconsider with a clear mind before offering your resignation. If you are sure about resigning, put it in clear writing. If you have submitted your resignation but wish to rescind it, timing is key and you will need to tell your employer as soon as possible.
Takeaway for employees
In short, courts will consider whether a reasonable person, viewing the situation objectively, would have understood the employee to have resigned. In short, was it clear that the employee meant it when they resigned or were there extenuating circumstances that may have led to their decision.