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Can you refuse to accept an employee‘s resignation?

On Behalf of | May 23, 2023 | Contract Law

As the owner of a company, you’re responsible for hiring employees who work under you. There may be many corporate layers, depending on the size of the business. A small business may just have an owner with support staff working under them, for instance, while a large corporation will have supervisors and managers operating in between.

But what if one of your employees comes to you and says that they are resigning their position because they no longer want to work at the business? You were counting on them to be there, and you know it’s going to hinder your business for them to leave. Can you refuse to accept the resignation and make them keep working?

Did they have an employment contract?

There are numerous factors to consider here, but the most important one is what type of employee they were. If they were working for you on a contract, then they may have agreed to provide those services for a set amount of time – such as the next year or two. In a case like that, you could decide to deny their resignation on the grounds they have to fulfill their side of the contract. They still have to keep working until it expires, when they can choose to walk away.

However, most employees do not have contracts. They are at-will employees. In a situation like that, they just get to decide how long they want to work at the business. You could not deny your employee’s resignation if they are an at-will worker, because they can step away whenever they want. 

Often, lower-level workers will be at-will employees, while executives or others higher up the corporate ladder may have contracts. It’s important for you to know exactly what these contracts entail and how to resolve a dispute, should one arise.

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