Can employees undergo disciplinary action if they resign with immediate effect?

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    Resignation with immediate effect is the termination of the contract of your employment immediately or with notice to your employer. The issue is whether an employee can still undergo disciplinary action if the employer refuses immediate resignation.  

    A resignation is a unilateral act by the employee. When an employee resigns and gives the required notice, the contract terminates at the end of the notice period. When an employee leaves his or her employment without notice (resigns with immediate effect), the employee breaches the contract.

    Ordinary contractual rules dictate that the employer may hold the employee to the employment contract and seek an order of specific performance requiring the employee to serve the period of notice. Alternatively, the employer may elect to accept the employee’s repudiation, cancel the contract and claim damages. Of course, it is always open to the parties to terminate an employment contract on agreed terms and for either of them to waive whatever rights they might otherwise have enjoyed. During the notice period, the employee is still employed by the employer. As a consequence, the employer may still institute disciplinary charges against the employee.

    In conclusion, while employers in the private sector may agree to accept notices of termination with immediate effect, thus negating any agreed notice periods. Should an employer in the private sector not want to agree to such an immediate termination, and want to proceed with disciplinary steps, it should do so as soon as possible so as to complete the process prior to the expiry of the period of notice.