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Do we have to allow an employee to rescind a resignation?

Typically, no. Employers and employees work “at will,” meaning both have the ability to continue the employment relationship or end it at any time, barring employment agreements or other considerations to the contrary.

Assuming a policy outlining specific actions does not exist, employers may accept or deny a request to rescind after considering the circumstances leading to the resignation. For example, it may be beneficial to allow rescission from a productive employee who resigned under acceptable circumstances and then had a change in circumstance (e.g., the job he or she was leaving for was withdrawn). In contrast, a company may be pleased to have a poor performer resign.

If considering rescission, employers should consider why the employee resigned. Unless those circumstances have changed, the organization is simply postponing the eventual resignation.

Regardless, employers may find it helpful to develop a resignation policy that addresses the need for written notice, how much notice is requested (not required), what happens when an employee gives more notice than is needed, payment in lieu of working the notice period, a procedure in which verbal resignations are confirmed in writing and whether rescission will be allowed. An employer may also wish to discuss in this policy any rules it may have on eligibility for rehire. The policy should be clearly communicated and consistently applied.


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