Notification of resignation may be made in advance

15.02.2021 | News, SAVALnews


Prior notice given by the employee of his or her future resignation is admissible by court decision and may not result in termination of employment before the stated date.

Sometimes the court deals with matters in which the background has been the employee's striving for good and loyal action towards the employer. One such matter has been the ambiguity as to whether the employee can give advance notice that they will resign at some later date. Some employers have interpreted the situation as meaning that the employment relationship and thus the payment of salary can then be terminated immediately after the normal agreed period of notice, and not at the later date indicated in the notice of resignation.

The court dealt with a case in which the employee, who had a 14-day notice period, had announced in their notice of resignation on 4 December that they would resign with the date of the termination of their employment being January 1st. The employee wanted the employment to end in the next year, because then they would receive their annual bonus. On the other hand, the employee also wanted to give the employer more time to look for a successor because the employee had many urgent work issues in progress. The employee further stated that they were moving to a competitor.

The employer immediately released the employee from their obligation to work and considered that the employment had ended 14 days after the notice of termination was given, contrary to the text of the notice. The employer did not pay the employee the bonus for that year because the employer considered that the employment had already ended in December, when the terms of the bonus agreement did not require the bonus to be paid.

The employee took the matter to the district court. The district court ruled that the period of notice of the employment contract is a period which must at least be reserved for the other party to the employment relationship in order to prepare for the termination of the employment contract. At the same time, the district court found that prior notice given by an employee is a normal and loyal procedure in practical working life.

In its decision, the district court held, as assessed in the legal literature and practice, that the provisions of the Employment Contracts Act do not prevent an employee from giving notice in advance that he or she will resign at a later date. The employee's notice has thus been an advance notice of resignation which will come into effect later, and the employee's unilateral declaration of intent must be interpreted in accordance with its content. Although the employer has the right to interpret the content of the terms of employment, it applies only to the content of the terms of employment and does not allow the content of a unilateral statement given by an employee to be interpreted contrary to the content of the statement. According to the legal literature and judicial practice, the date of termination of employment is considered to be determined by the notice of resignation given and if the employer does not comply with the employee's advance notice, the employee is entitled to their salary for the period of notice.

The employee was thus entitled to be paid for the period of notice until 31 December and other compensation determined in accordance with the Employment Contracts Act based on the date of termination of employment, in this case holiday pay and also performance bonus.

The case was further referred to the Helsinki Court of Appeal, which confirmed that the period of notice that an employee is obliged to comply with under their employment contract and the provisions of the Employment Contracts Act or a collective agreement is a minimum period, nor shall there be any obstacle to the employee giving notice of his or her resignation in advance or with a longer period of notice than would otherwise be required.

Thus, there is now an unequivocal confirmation at the level of the Court of Appeal that an employee has the right to resign in advance with a reasonable period of notice beyond their contractual notice period, when they expressly state this in their own notice of termination.

Heikki Meskanen, Master of Laws with court training


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