In recent years, the concept of providing a “cooling off” period for employees resigning in moments of stress has been a subject of debate in employment law. The developing viewpoints on cooling off times are examined using two key instances heard before the Employment Court: Mikes Transport Warehouse Limited v Vermuelen and Urban Décor Ltd v Yu. These cases provide new guidelines for both employers and employees dealing with impulsive resignations.


Mikes Transport Warehouse Limited v Vermuelen

Vermuelen’s example called into question long-held assumptions about cooling off periods. In this case, the Employment Court emphasised the importance of objectively determining the legitimacy of a resignation, regardless of the circumstances surrounding its tender. The court reaffirmed that, while resignations given in moments of frustration or anger may not have a cooling off period, they can still be regarded genuine if objectively clear and unambiguous.

Key principles emerged from Vermuelen:


Learning from Vermuelen suggests that employees should promptly express their desire to return to work if they resign impulsively. However, employers must carefully evaluate the clarity of the resignation and address any ambiguities. 


Urban Décor Ltd v Yu. Ms. Yu and Ms. Jin and Cooling Off Periods

The principles established in Vermuelen were further reinforced in the case of Urban Décor Ltd v Yu. Ms. Yu and Ms. Jin tendered their resignations in the heat of the moment following a heated argument with Mr. Han, the sole Director, and Shareholder of Urban Décor. The court reiterated that the focus should be on the objective assessment of whether an employee resigned, rather than the circumstances leading to the resignation. This case highlighted that even in heated exchanges leading to resignations, the absence of a cooling off period does not negate the validity of the resignation. 

Key takeaways from Urban Décor Ltd v Yu: 


The cases of Vermuelen and Urban Décor Ltd v Yu mark a shift in the interpretation of cooling off periods in the context of heat-of-the-moment resignations. While employers are not always obligated to provide cooling off periods, the objective clarity of the resignation remains paramount. These cases highlight the importance of prompt communication from both parties. Employers and employees alike should remain vigilant in understanding the specifics of resignations made in moments of stress to ensure fair and just outcomes in the workplace. 


If you are feeling under pressure at work and feel that you have no choice but to resign, Sacked Kiwi can help. Before you resign you should get in contact with us through our toll-free hotline. 


Legal Disclaimer: The content posted on the Sacked Kiwis website should not be considered or relied upon as legal advice or opinion. The information presented here is not intended to serve as legal guidance. Over time, laws and regulations evolve, potentially altering the accuracy of previously shared information. Updates in jurisprudence or legislation, which could happen without immediate notice, may render the legal information on this platform outdated or obsolete.