Never Resign!

Fri 10th May 2019 by Jarret Janis

Okay, if you wish to move to a new position, you have already lined up a new job, and you wish to give notice to your current employer then yes, you should communicate your intention to depart. However, if you are emotional after some sort of workplace confrontation, or find yourself in almost any situation other than that just described above regarding a friendly and planned departure, you probably should not tell your employer that you resign. Let’s look at some reasons why:

  1. If you resign, you probably won’t be able to obtain employment insurance benefits. Whereas, if you were dismissed, you probably do have recourse to employment insurance benefits that will help you somewhat during this difficult time.
  2. If you resign, you may have either abandoned, or weakened any right to termination pay or common law severance. Everyone’s situation differs, but many people are very surprised to learn how much severance their former employer should have paid them.
  3. If you resign, you may immediately lose certain benefits. For example, if you had a long-term disability insurance plan, that plan likely has a requirement that you be employed to retain coverage. Whether you still have options or not may depend on the specific facts, for which you should consult a lawyer, but your communication of a wish to resign certainly will not have helped the situation.

Instead, speak to a lawyer about your workplace problem first, to understand your options.

After a dismissal, some employees ask their employers to let them resign, instead, because they don’t want a dismissal in their employee file, or they otherwise worry about the stigma of such an event. However, these are probably not good reasons to prefer a resignation to a dismissal. Unless your employer validly had just cause to dismiss you (which you won’t know until you consult with a lawyer), you were likely owed severance, and you may be surprised at how much severance you have a claim for. For example, some people might be owed 2 full years of severance, but might have ruined any such claim for severance (as well as any claim for EI benefits) by asking their employer to let them resign instead of the dismissal. While answering a prospective new employer about why you left your former job may not be easy, having substantial severance or EI benefits during your period of unemployment is likely far more important to you and to your family than the value of avoiding an uncomfortable question. So, think hard and consult a lawyer before you resign due to a workplace problem, or before you try to convert a true dismissal into a “resignation” after the fact.

I already said that I resign – do I have any options?

Yes, you may still have options. There is some authority for the idea that a resignation communicated while upset or emotional may not constitute a valid resignation. Go see a lawyer to find out what your options are. The advice above, suggesting that people not resign, is good advice because a resignation communicated while you are upset is not likely to improve your position. However, even where you have already communicated a desire to resign the situation may not be considered clear-cut. You may indeed still have options available, and your resignation may not have been legally effective.