Link to read articleThe law behind “I quit”

Transcript: Do I have to give notice to my employer before I quit? In British Columbia, there’s nothing in the Employment Standards Act that says you have to give your employer notice before you quit. But that’s not the end of the story. You may have something in your employment contract that says you’ve got to provide notice. Or, depending on your length of service, salary, and the time it would take for your employer to replace you, you may also owe your employer more than the two weeks’ notice many employees give their employers before leaving. Even if you’re a rank and file employee, and you think your employer won’t miss you, giving notice is still a good idea. Giving your boss plenty of notice will help protect your professional reputation and make it more likely they’ll give you a good reference down the road. You never know how the new job will work out, and you can never have too many good references. How much notice is enough notice? The short answer is “it depends.” Sometimes it’s spelled out in your employment contract. Otherwise, the notice you should provide your employer depend on your role and responsibilities, how long you’ve been there, and how hard it will be for your employer to find a suitable replacement. An executive or employee in a key position will be expected to provide far more notice than a rank-and-file employee! Here’s the bottom line: If you’re a key employee, or you think your employer might lose a lot of money if you left suddenly, you should talk to an employment lawyer before you provide your resignation. If I say that I’m resigning on a specific day, can my employer fire me before that? If you’re careful to say that you’re resigning on a certain date, your employer is not entitled to fire you earlier than that. If your employer does fire you earlier than that, you can argue that you were terminated without cause and are owed severance. Depending on your employment contract, you may be entitled to all the notice you would have otherwise received if your employer had just fired you out of the blue for no reason. Here’s how it works: basically, the courts see resignation with terms as an offer to resign, and the employer must accept the offer as stated. If they don’t, it’s just like they’re firing you for no reason. Do I still get termination pay, severance, EI? Normally, the answer is no. Employees who quit their job voluntarily means they ended the employment relationship rather than the company. This means the quitting employee isn’t entitled to termination pay under employment standards legislation, pay in lieu of notice at common law, or even employment insurance. That said, there are exceptions to this rule. For instance, if the employee can demonstrate that they had no choice but to leave because of something like harassment, a demotion, or unsafe work, they might be able to argue that they were “constructively dismissed.” If this is the case, such an employee may be owed compensation as though the employer had terminated their employment. Check out our blogs for more information about constructive dismissal, or give us a call for a free, 30-minute consultation. Can I take back my resignation? Heated resignations in the workplace are common. You can think of the big, cliché scene here: an employee gets frustrated at something their boss says one afternoon, yells “I quit,” and storms out of the office. The law recognizes that decisions that are made when the employee is overly emotional often shouldn’t be enforced. Courts have recognized that employers can’t always accept a resignation right away when it’s given in anger or frustration. Whether a court sees an employee’s resignation as something that should stick in situations like this depends on a number of things, including how long the employee’s been with the company and whether the outburst was out of character.

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