Man who resigned then changed his mind loses 'unfair dismissal' claim

A man who resigned and then four days later asked his employer to cancel his resignation because he had changed his mind has lost his claim for unfair dismissal.

The man was employed by Birmingham City Council. He handed a letter of resignation to his line manager who immediately offered him a cooling-off period so he could consider the full implications of his actions.

He left to reconsider but came back half an hour later saying he still wished to resign.

Four days later he sent an email to his manager asking her to cancel his resignation because he had been stressed by his personal circumstances when he handed in the letter and had not been thinking straight. The manager told him that he could not be reinstated.

He took the case to an employment tribunal, saying that the local authority had not given him enough time to reflect and so there had been no real resignation. However, the tribunal held that he had resigned and so could not bring a claim for unfair dismissal.

That decision has now been upheld by the Employment Appeal Tribunal which held that the resignation was not an impulsive gesture carried out in the heat of the moment. The authority had offered him time to reflect and he had then waited four days before trying to rescind his decision.

During that time, by his failure to contact the authority, he had effectively indicated that he did indeed wish to resign and so there had been no error of law in the tribunal’s decision to reject his claim for unfair dismissal.

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