Resign or not resign?

Should You Resign If Faced With Disciplinary Action?

Your boss just gave you a letter. It’s not good.

The letter invites you to a meeting at 9:30 a.m. on Monday morning in the boardroom.

They want to discuss allegations that are being made against you. They say they have evidence that you’ve misbehaved.

You know this could turn out badly for you. You’re starting to dread Monday morning.

Your next thought may be, “How can I bring this to an end? Do I really have to go to this meeting?”

What if you resign? Wouldn’t that just end it all?


Resigning has its appeal because you may think you’ll avoid a dismissal on your record.

If you get dismissed, you may find it hard to get another job. How will you explain your dismissal during job interviews? And what will your boss say when asked for a verbal reference?

If you could say that you had resigned, that might make the task of finding another job much easier. Sure, you’ll have to explain why you resigned. But people change jobs for all sorts of reasons.

Resigning seems like the best of two evils. But at least it will stop your employer from taking the matter further, right?


Unfortunately, resigning isn’t a foolproof solution in this case.

That’s because when you resign, you don’t bring your employment to an end immediately.

No, your boss doesn’t need to accept your resignation. But you will almost always need to give a period of notice of your resignation. The period of notice is usually specified in your employment agreement.

So even after you resign, your employment continues for weeks, or even months.

During that time, your employer may not be so happy about you remaining in the business. Particularly if they believe that you have misbehaved in some way.

So despite your resignation, they could choose to continue the disciplinary process.

If they think you’ve seriously misbehaved, they could decide to terminate your employment. Immediately.

Where would that leave you?

Well, your resignation wouldn’t matter so much anymore. It would be overtaken by the employer’s decision to dismiss you during your notice period.

In short, your employment will have ended by dismissal, not resignation. You are back to square one.


A better approach, if you are thinking of resigning, is to try and reach a deal with your employer.

That means you do not resign immediately but try to have an “off-the-record” discussion.

Here’s what I mean:

Approach your boss and say that you have been thinking about the allegations. You may say that you don’t accept them, but that you don’t want to drag the process out. Tell your boss you have an “off-the-record” offer to make. Explain that you are willing to resign if they stop the disciplinary process.

If your employer accepts the offer, they cannot dismiss you. Your resignation will stand.

If they accept, your boss might want you to leave earlier than the expiry of your period of notice. It’s up to you whether you wish to agree to that. Your boss may be willing to pay out your period of notice. Whether they pay you out or not, you may still think securing your resignation this way is worth it.


When faced with disciplinary action, employees think they can end it all by resigning.

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Resigning means you have to work out your period of notice, unless your employer agrees. And if your employer thinks you’ve misbehaved, they may not want to pay you for that period. They may prefer to dismiss you immediately – during your notice period.

Sure, some employers may happily accept a resignation rather than continue a disciplinary process. But that’s not always the case. Which is why resigning in the face of disciplinary process is not the foolproof plan some think it is.

Better to try and negotiate an outcome with your employer before you resign. That way, you can use your resignation offer as a bargaining chip to ensure you do not end up with a dismissal on your record.

Though you may not get a reference, or a pat on the back on your way out, at least getting your next job will be easier than if you were dismissed.

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