30th Sep 2012
Author: Daniel A. Lublin
When all else fails, it may be time to resign. But before you take that step, make sure you know exactly what you are walking away from.
Recently I was retained by Shauna, who is a business development advisor for a mutual fund company. Almost positive that a pink slip was coming her way, Shauna was inclined to resign before the company could terminate her. By doing so, she thought she could save face. However, when it came to walking away from her job with her self-esteem intact, Shauna was forgetting that she would also likely be walking away from a severance package.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, one of the most important factors to remember is that you are typically entitled to receive a severance or termination package if you are terminated for reasons other than serious misconduct. As a result, I usually try to dissuade employees from walking away from a job without a good reason; or at least an awareness of what’s being left behind. Ultimately, the reason that you leave may mean the difference between a package, and just a pat on the back. Therefore, if you are faced with the decision to stay or walk away, you should consider the following advice before handing in your resignation:
If your employment situation can objectively be viewed as intolerable, if you have essentially been forced to leave, or if your job has been fundamentally changed without your consent, you can resign and later claim damages as if you had been terminated. You should, however, proceed with real caution as resigning gives your ex-employer various grounds to defend against your claim. Legal counsel should always be consulted prior to resigning, to avoid prejudicing your case.
In the absence of intolerable conditions, the law doesn’t reward quitting – plain and simple. An employer is no longer required to provide an employee with advance notice of his or her termination or, compensation in the form of the severance or termination package in place of advanced notice. In addition, all employment related benefits cease immediately.
Employment Insurance benefits are likely lost as well. Although a decision to deny you EI can be appealed, you face an uphill battle if you have resigned without a valid reason.
Employers usually feel abandoned by an employee who resigns, and especially one who walks away with little or no notice. If a reference letter or continued affiliation with your former employer is important, you should reconsider any decision that ends the relationship in haste. Giving advanced notice of a resignation may be a more sensible way to leave.
Your employment contract may reference a specific period of notice that you must give to resign. If it does not, you should give your employer a reasonable head’s up. In limited circumstances, leaving your employer vulnerable could mean a lawsuit against you.
Resigning is a very important workplace decision. Just like any other important work-related decision, you should do your research prior to choosing a course of action that may seriously affect your legal rights.