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An employer cannot refuse to accept an employee’s resignation at any time. If an employee has submitted their resignation it is valid even if the employer has not accepted it. The notice period to be provided should be set out in the terms and conditions of employment or if not specified in a contract, be in accordance with statutory minimum periods (i.e. one week for each complete year of service up to a maximum of 12 weeks).
There is no specific requirement for a resignation to be provided in writing unless the terms and conditions of employment specifically say so. Once notice is given it takes effect immediately. If the employee changes their mind for some reason the resignation cannot be withdrawn unless the employer agrees to this.
If an employee decides to submit their resignation whilst a disciplinary process is ongoing, there are two potential scenarios arising.
Firstly if the employee resigns with immediate effect i.e. without providing the correct notice period, an employer does not have to continue with the disciplinary process. It is recommended that details of the disciplinary process is retained in case there is a later claim from the employee e.g. an assertion of constructive dismissal.
The second potential scenario is that an employee resigns and does give notice. In this situation the employer can proceed with the disciplinary process. The severity of the issue may be considered here, but if it is a case of gross misconduct there can be a summary dismissal and this decision will supersede the resignation. The reason for leaving would therefore be recorded as a dismissal, and in the case of gross misconduct no notice period is applicable therefore the balance of any notice period or pay for the remainder of what would have been the notice period will be due.
Depending on the sector, it is also worth being aware that references may need to be provided e.g. financial services, care and there would be a duty to advise of the resignation or report a matter to the Disclosure and Barring Service for issues related to that.