The Other Side of the Coin: The Rules of a Resignation


Wrongful Resignation is a term you do not hear very often in the world of HR.

All provincial Employment Standards Acts (ESAs) make it a requirement for employers to give an employee proper notice, or pay in lieu of notice, upon termination. However, there is no requirement under ESA laws for the employee to give proper notice to their employer.

However, the absence of any such legal obligation does not mean employees are able just to quit and walk out.

A common law employment concept exists which functions as the opposite side of the wrongful termination coin — wrongful resignation. The notion of wrongful resignation serves to remind HR practitioners that there are two parties in the employment relationship; the employee and the employer. Yes, the laws place significantly more obligations on the employer, but this does not give the employee carte blanche to disregard the contractual relationship.

Click here to read about a case in which the Canadian courts upheld an employer’s wrongful resignation claim, awarding the employer $35,000 in damages.

When a contract of employment is brought to an end by an employee, they must treat their employer fairly by taking into account the impact the resignation is likely to have. Here is a list of some considerations an employee should consider prior to resigning:

  • How long have they worked there?
  • How specialized is the job or work?
  • How easily can the employer find a new replacement employee?

Wrongful resignation suits are not currently the norm, but they may become more common as employers seek to ensure that their rights are protected when key employees choose to leave, especially if those employees are recruited by an executive recruiter, or directly by a competitor.


Discussion Questions:

List several proactive steps an employer could take to prevent having employees resign wrongfully.

Your VP of HR has asked you to create an employment contract. Create a list of items you would include in that contract.