Can an employee resign and then a week or so later withdraw the resignation?

As a general principle an employee can’t retract his or her resignation without the employer’s consent.

If an employee can show that the employer failed to accept his resignation he can withdraw his resignation at any time before acceptance.

A contract of employment between the employer and the employer can be terminated by agreement between the parties (the employee resigns and the employer accepts the resignation). If the employee changes his mind it is too late unless the employer agrees. In other words, the employee has no legal right which entitles him to unilaterally withdraw his resignation.

In Nashwa v Unisel Gold Mine [1995] 9 BLLR 132 (IC), two conflicting versions of the events leading up to the applicant’s dismissal were put to the court. The applicant alleged that he had been dismissed, the respondent that he had voluntarily resigned. In the court’s view, when an employee voluntarily tendered his resignation in a moment of weakness or anger and shortly thereafter approached his employer to retract his resignation, a refusal to accept the retraction could in appropriate circumstances amount to an unfair labour practice. However, the application was dismissed as the court accepted the respondent’s version.

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