Employees may resign from their positions for any number of reasons, but before you decide to quit your job, there are some things you should be aware of to ensure that you are legally protected.
What is the proper way to resign from your job?
Most employers consider it courteous that when an employee leaves, they give the employer some notice. While this is certainly keeping within best practice, it is not a legal requirement under the British Columbia Employment Standards Act. But also note that if an employee quits without proper notice and that causes the employer to sustain business losses, the employee may be liable to the employer for those losses. Wrongful resignation cases are rare but they do exist.
Employees considering quitting should review their employment contract as their contract may stipulate giving a certain amount of notice before resigning. This is a common clause in employment contracts, particularly for management and higher-level employees.
When giving notice, it is best to do so in writing and electronically so that there is a paper trail.
Consider why you are resigning
If you generally have a good relationship with your employer and your reason for resigning is because you are moving on to another position or into the next chapter of your life, that is one thing.
But what if you don’t have a great relationship with your employer, and you want to resign because you feel uncomfortable or unhappy at work? If you are in a situation where your employer is changing the terms of your employment, you are facing harassment, discrimination, or bullying then it is recommended that you speak with an employment lawyer before leaving your job. If you resign prematurely in this type of situation, then it may weaken any potential legal case that you may have.
What employees need to know
Before you resign from your job, there are three questions that you should ask:
1. Does my employment contract contain any restrictive covenants?
Restrictive covenants are terms such as non-competition and non-solicitation clauses which could potentially impact your ability to work within the same field if you leave your employer. If you have a restrictive covenant in your employment contract, you should consult an employment lawyer to see if these clauses are enforceable before leaving your job.
2. Is a job-protected leave a better option for me than resignation?
In certain circumstances, an employee may be better off taking a job-protected leave than simply quitting their job. This would include circumstances such as a medical leave.
3. How will this affect my ability to collect government entitlements?
Finally, it is important to remember that if you resign, you won’t be entitled to any severance from your employer. Resigning will also affect your ability to collect Employment Insurance, so you may wish to speak to an employment lawyer about this before leaving your job.
What employers need to know
When it comes to employees resigning, employers also have best practices that they should follow.
1. Ensure employees receive their proper final pay in accordance with the British Columbia Employment Standards Act.
When an employee gives notice of their resignation, employers can allow the employee to work out the remainder of the notice term or to terminate their employment immediately. If the employer chooses to terminate the employment effective immediately, the employer will be required to pay out the minimum severance as set out in the Employment Standards Act.
2. Never make resignation a condition of not accepted changes to employment.
Employers should not give ultimatums to employees along the lines of “accept this change or resign”. If an employer wants to implement a significant change in the workplace, they should consult an employment lawyer on how to do so without creating unexpected liabilities.
3. Do not immediately accept the resignation of a distressed/emotional employee.
If, as an employer, you have an employee who resigns after a stressful or emotional interaction at work, it is best not to accept the resignation of that employee immediately. Instead, it is better to allow the employee a day or two to cool off and follow up with them to see if they truly wish to quit their job. This simple step can be a good way to protect yourself from legal action later. A resignation must be unequivocal and intentional and there are cases where someone quits in the heat of the moment have been found to have not legally resigned from their employment.
Contact Kent Employment Law today
If you are an employee or employer and have questions about resignation or any other employment matter, we are here to help. Call us today to speak with one of our employment lawyers.