Wrongful resignation: Revisiting the employee obligation to provide reasonable notice

Wrongful resignation: Revisiting the employee obligation to provide reasonable notice

In our First Reference blog of February 19, 2015, we discussed an interesting decision out of the British Columbia Superior Court of Justice: Consbec Inc. v. Walker.

The facts (in brief) related to a claim from a family-owned company for a variety of damages related to an employee’s hasty resignation. Among these was the allegation that the Defendant ex-employee failed to provide reasonable notice of resignation (he in fact provided none) and this caused the company to incur damages related to arranging for a replacement.

Reasonable Notice of Resignation: The Sequel

In February 2015 we wrote about a case where a former employee was ordered to pay $56,116.11 as a result of his failure to give reasonable notice of resignation. While these so-called wrongful resignation cases are rare, they should give anyone contemplating a hasty exit from their workplace second thoughts. 

However, as evidenced by a recent decision out of Sudbury, employers too should think twice prior to going to court on the basis of wrongful resignation.

Resignation regrets: Employee's failure to provide reasonable notice of departure costs him $56,116.11

When employers think of reasonable notice, they tend to be concerned with whether sufficient notice of dismissal is provided by the employer to the employee. However, an important subject that garners far less attention is what notice a departing employee must provide to the employer. 

The duty to provide reasonable notice of resignation is one implied by the common law. It has no equivalent in Ontario employment law legislation, such as the statutory notice employers are obliged to provide (at a minimum) when dismissing an employee. Regardless, whether through popular convention of television and media, or some other social norm, there exists a perception that a departing employee must give their 'two weeks' notice.' The question for employers is whether such notice is sufficient and, if not, what can they do about the problem?