Reading Time: 4 minutes
22-June 2022

In April 2021, the Labour Court was presented with a case where an employee had resigned their employment in writing, and then endeavoured to withdraw the resignation.  The employer in question argued that the resignation had been accepted and declined to entertain the employee’s attempt to retract it.  In this blog, we discuss the legal position to answer the question as to whether you, as the employer, are bound to accept the withdrawal of an employee’s resignation.

What is the impact of resignation on the employment relationship?

The Labour Court clarified in this case that the act of resignation is unilateral and voluntary – the impact of resignation is to terminate the employment relationship.

At what point does the resignation take effect?

The resignation is effective from the point at which it is communicated to the employer.  Unless the employer consents to the resignation being withdrawn, it cannot be retracted.  The fact that the contractual termination requirements may or may not stipulate as to notice to be served, has no bearing on whether a retraction is available or not.

What is required to revive the relationship?

The Labour Court held that once the resignation has taken effect, the only way that the relationship can be revived is for the employee to be re-employed, but that this does not constitute a reinstatement.  In other words, a new employment relationship comes into being. 

Equally, should the employer consent to re-employment, the decision on behalf of the employer will only have effect thereto if the individual representing the employer is authorized to act as such. 

Closing thoughts….

The findings of the Labour Court make it clear that once an employee communicates the resignation to the employer, the election cannot be unilaterally withdrawn.  From the perspective of an employer, this decision confirms that the power in such a scenario lies with the employer.  Should you (as the employer in this case) find yourself in a position where an employee is attempting to retract their resignation, you are not required to accept it as the employee, in fact, does not have any right of retraction.

As fellow entrepreneurs, we recognize that the issues that might arise in the ordinary course of your business are as unique as your business venture, but luckily for you, MMS Group is a leader in audit and related accounting and income tax services, leaving you with more time to focus on other issues that require your attention. For more information on the services that we offer, please see further details on our website

Related Articles

How To Protect Your Business From Online Fraud

Is Your Business At Risk For Online Fraud?While business executives frequently assess risks that could impact their enterprises, one they often overlook is the potential threat of...

Why a Trust?

The popularity of trusts has generally decreased in business, due to the tightening of tax provisions around trusts, reducing their effectiveness as a vehicle to legitimately reduce...

10 Steps to understanding Trusts in SA

Increasingly, individuals are appreciating the value of trusts in estate planning. Thanks to the continued growth in these vehicles, we offer dedicated trust accounting services to our...

Let us assist you with:

Contact Us