If an employee is unhappy with his work or would like to seek greener pastures, the normal recourse is to resign. In San Miguel Properties v. Gucaban (G.R. No. 153982, 18 July 2011), the Supreme Court had the occasion to define resignation as follows:
“Resignation — the formal pronouncement or relinquishment of a position or office — is the voluntary act of an employee who is in a situation where he believes that personal reasons cannot be sacrificed in favor of the exigency of the service, and he has then no other choice but to disassociate himself from employment. The intent to relinquish must concur with the overt act of relinquishment; hence, the acts of the employee before and after the alleged resignation must be considered in determining whether he in fact intended to terminate his employment. In illegal dismissal cases, fundamental is the rule that when an employer interposes the defense of resignation, on him necessarily rests the burden to prove that the employee indeed voluntarily resigned.”
However, a text message or letter signifying the intent to resign effective immediately is not the proper way of resigning under Philippine Labor Laws. Article 285 of Presidential Decree 442, as amended, otherwise known as the Labor Code of the Philippines, states that an employee may terminate without just cause the employee-employer relationship by serving a written notice on the employer at least one (1) month in advance. The law further states that the employer upon whom no such notice was served may hold the employee liable for damages.
It was explained by the Supreme Court in Hechanova vs. Matorre (G.R. No. 198261, 16 October 2013) that the 30-day notice requirement for an employee’s resignation is for the benefit of the employer in order to afford the him enough time to hire another employee if needed and to see to it that there is proper turn-over of the tasks which the resigning employee may be handling.
Since the 30-day notice is for the employer’s benefit, he may waive such period. Thus, in Paredes vs. Feed the Children Philippines, Inc. (G.R. No. 184397, 9 September 2015), the Supreme Court elucidated that the rule requiring an employee to stay or complete the 30-day period prior to the effectivity of his resignation becomes discretionary on the part of management as an employee who intends to resign may be allowed a shorter period before his resignation becomes effective. Hence, as part of management prerogative, an employer has the right to move the effectivity date to an earlier date.
Take heed that if an employee does not give the 30-day notice, he can be held liable for damages to the employer. An aggrieved employer may file a civil case for damages and breach of contractual obligation with the regular courts. As ruled in Eviota vs. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 152121, 29 July 2003), while seemingly the cause of action arose from employer-employee relations, the employer’s claim for damages is grounded on wanton failure and refusal without just cause to report to duty coupled with the averment that the employee maliciously and with bad faith violated the terms and conditions of the contract to the damage of the employer. Such averments removed the controversy from the coverage of the Labor Code of the Philippines and brought it within the purview of the Civil Law.
Nevertheless, not all resignations require advance notice of 30 days. The following grounds under Art. 285 of the Labor Code are considered just causes allowing the employee to resign immediately:
1. Serious insult by the employer or his representative on the honor and person of the employee;
2. Inhuman and unbearable treatment accorded the employee by the employer or his representative;
3. Commission of a crime or offense by the employer or his representative against the person of the employee or any of the immediate members of his family; and
4. Other causes analogous to any of the foregoing.
The resignation is complete upon acceptance by the employer. An employee must therefore be careful and circumspect in filing his resignation because if he changes his mind, he needs to re-apply for the job as held in Intertrod Maritime, Inc. vs. NLRC (G.R. No. 81087, 19 June 1991), to wit:
“Once an employee resigns and his resignation is accepted, he no longer has any right to the job. If the employee later changes his mind, he must ask for approval of the withdrawal of his resignation from his employer, as if he were re-applying for the job. It will then be up to the employer to determine whether or not his service would be continued. If the employer accepts said withdrawal, the employee retains his job. If the employer does not, as in this case, the employee cannot claim illegal dismissal for the employer has the right to determine who his employees will be. To say that an employee who has resigned is illegally dismissed, is to encroach upon the right of employers to hire persons who will be of service to them.”
Like any separation, severance of employer-employee relations is a difficult process. However, before parting ways, it is prudent to follow the procedure laid down under the Labor Code, not only for the sake of complying with the law, but also to maintain cordial relations. As the song goes, it’s a small world after all. Thus, burning bridges by leaving a bad impression with the company may be prejudicial in the future.