Is a verbal resignation worth the paper it's written on?

Discussion in 'Work, Careers, Employment rights, further study' started by PaddyBloggit, May 1, 2009.

  1. PaddyBloggit

    PaddyBloggit Frequent Poster

    A friend of mine is employed in a pre-school in a community centre - two and a half hours a day, four days a week - the length of time that the pre-school is open.

    A management committee is responsible for all that happens in the centre including the preschool. The preschool is funded by the HSE. On Saturday last a committee member came to my friend's door.

    The committee member who also happens to be a neighbour, initially started asking questions/looking for opinions about the general cleanliness of the preschool but ended up finding fault with her work specifically her work in relation to the cleaning aspect of her duties.

    It came across as a personal criticism. My friend got upset at this attack and before the day was out she contacted her preschool leader to say that she couldn't work any longer in a situation where her private life was constantly being invaded. The preschool leader had many times in the past rang her after work discussing aspects of the day and also aspects of my friend's personal life.

    The visit by the neighbour/committee member was the last straw.

    In the course of her telephone conversation with the preschool leader she stated that she couldn't handle all this and face back to work to a situation like this. The preschool leader read into this that she was verbally handing in her notice. She was probably prompted into saying that she was handing in her notice. In her upset state she cannot remember exactly how this 'verbal resignation' came to pass.

    On Monday morning she got ready for work as usual but before leaving for work she received a phone call asking her if she was coming into work that day and she was asked to work her notice. At work the chairperson of the committee handed her a letter asking her for 'written notice of her verbal notice' for their records.

    On Monday evening she decided to ring to chairperson to tell her that she had acted hastily/over reacted on the previous Saturday and having thought about it over the weekend she was withdrawing her notice and as a consequence wouldn't be providing anything in writing. She explained to the chairperson the upset that the call to the door had caused her and that her actions were as a result of that.

    She was told by the chairperson that the decision would rest with the committee who were meeting on Wednesday.

    The committee met on Wednesday. She received a phone call late Wednesday evening when she was told that they weren't accepting the withdrawal of her verbal notice and again she was asked for written confirmation of her notice. She doesn't work on Fridays and is unsure whether she should attend work on Tuesday morning next. She has keys to the facility but wasn't asked to return them.

    Her contract states that she is required to give at least four weeks' notice in writing of her intention to terminate her employment with the Community Pre-school. Her contact also states that the managemnet committee will give at least four weeks' notice in writing of termination of her employment.

    No formal allegation of misconduct has been made.

    Can an 'off duty' phone call where she verbally said she would give up her job be enforced? She was in an upset state and was cornered into stating that.

    There may be an ulterior motive here as the Pre-school may not have its funding renewed for the coming year due to insufficient enrolment and it may be in the best interests of the management committee to see an employee walking away rather than being made redundant.

    What should she do next Tuesday morning?

    Does she have to resign?

    What should she/can she do?
  2. Padraigb

    Padraigb Frequent Poster

    That seems clear enough. I think she is entitled to keep her job unless the management committee initiates dismissal procedures and conducts them properly.
  3. ajapale

    ajapale Moderator

  4. mathepac

    mathepac Frequent Poster

    It may be too late, but I think your friend and the committee members (employers ?) need to conduct themselves in a professional manner. This nonsense of phone calls and callers to the door outside of business hours is a recipe for creating just the scenario your friend is now in.

    I would argue that any alleged conversation outside of business hours relating to her giving in her notice never happened. (I'm not a lawyer or union rep).

    Until such time as your friend chooses to hand in a written notice as per the contract, she is still in a job - a job which is going to prove very difficult and which will probably have an unpleasant atmosphere, but a job nonetheless.
  5. PaddyBloggit

    PaddyBloggit Frequent Poster

    Padraigb ~ thanks for that clarification ... I'll pass on that info to her.

    mathepac ~ it's like closing the stable door when the horse has bolted. Voluntary groups should never be put in charge of employees!

    I'll tell her to attend work on Tuesday and see what happens.

    Can they send her home from work?

    Sorry about the posting in incorrect forum ... I looked .... and looked ... and looked again and thought Askaboutlaw had me covered.
  6. mathepac

    mathepac Frequent Poster

    For sure; while no doubt well intentioned, a lot of the time they don't have the professional training to manage people or projects.

    They can certainly try, but if she's not in a union, IMO your unfortunate friend needs legal advice and possibly a solicitor on standby to issue an injunction if they attempt to terminate her contract.
  7. Sue Ellen

    Sue Ellen Moderator.

    Sounds like a dreadful case of bullying. No employee IMHO should have to take either telephone calls or callers to her home in the manner stated above.
  8. Henny Penny

    Henny Penny Frequent Poster

    Ask your friend to contact her local City/County Childcare Committee ... they are charged with supporting childcare at local level. They may be able to mediate between both parties with a view to resolving the issue.
    Good luck.
  9. PaddyBloggit

    PaddyBloggit Frequent Poster

    I can't believe it .... my long post gone .... this scroll feature on my keyboard is a curse!

    Thanks for the replies ... I'll respond more comprehensively tomorrow.
  10. Sue Ellen

    Sue Ellen Moderator.

    If you intend doing a long post you might be as well doing it in Word and copying it over.
  11. sam h

    sam h Frequent Poster

    She should contact NERA on Tuesday morning.

    My tuppence worth though - I would not think that she officially handed in her notice (hard to say without knowing exactly what was said). You indicate in your post :

    I would interprete this as : if you continue to contact me at home, I may have to give notice.

    It is grossly unfair to contact employees at home to discuss things that should be discussed during working hours - she only works 2.5 days / for 4 days....a total of 10 hours. So even if the call/visits only last a half hour per week - it's an extra 5% of her time.

    I worked for 10 years in a multinational company & I can only recall 2 occasions where I got a call at home - both would have been classed as emergencies & unforseen....but if they had been something that could have waited until the next day, I would have been put out to be contacted at home.

    I reckon she has a good case & should get some additional information from NERA. She should go to work as normal & if anyone says anything, she should politely say she is looking into this with NERA & will get back to them.