Employee Withdrawal of a Letter of Resignation

Irina Onikienko
Senior Lawyer
Capital Legal Services

Anna Leksashova
Junior Lawyer
Capital Legal Services

The labor law of the Russian Federation is known to protect the interests of employees to a significant extent, as an employee is deemed the more vulnerable part of labor relations, including in issues pertaining to voluntary resignation. Unlike termination of employment at the initiative of the employer, which is allowed only on the grounds provided for by the Labor Code of the Russian Federation, all that is required from an employee desiring to resign is a written statement (i.e. a letter of resignation).

The only restriction in this case is the minimum term of notice established by the legislator. The general rule is that this term of notice must not be less than two weeks, though this may be reduced upon agreement of the parties. However, life is unpredictable and its twists and turns often change our plans and decisions which at one time seemed final to us. Thus, an employee who submitted a letter of resignation may change his or her decision to resign for whatever reason. In this case, there is no need for the employee to despair and assume that what is done cannot be undone. The Labor Code of the Russian Federation entitles employees to cancel their letter of resignation. This article will tell how to do so without the risk of the cancellation being denied by the employer.

The cancellation of a letter of resignation should be done by submitting another letter where the employee requests the employer to consider his or her initial letter invalid. Cancellation of a letter of resignation seems to be rather simple but the following conditions must be met.

Firstly, the time frame established for exercising the right to cancel a letter of resignation needs to be complied with. A letter of resignation may be cancelled only prior to the expiry of the resignation notice period and if the employee takes a vacation with subsequent resignation, then prior to the commencement date of the vacation. Upon expiry of the indicated time frame, the employer is released from its obligation to satisfy any cancellation and to continue labor relations with the employee.

Since the time frame established for submitting a statement of cancellation of a letter of resignation is deemed the key one, the employee is obliged to ensure that the person who is in charge of making decisions on related questions, and who acts on behalf of the employer, receives his or her letter. To avoid disputable situations the employee is recommended to deliver the letter to the employer’s head office against a signature of the recipient (if the firm keeps records of incoming mail the employee’s copy should be marked with a reference number). In addition, it is mandatory for the employer to specify the date of receipt of the relevant letter. The letter may be sent to the employer in the mail by registered delivery, but taking into account that time frames for mail delivery are long and unpredictable, the employee may fail to comply with the established terms and have in actuality resigned upon expiry of the resignation notice period.

Secondly, cancellation of a letter of resignation may be performed only if a written job offer for the employee’s position has not been sent to another employee with whom under the labor legislation of the Russian Federation conclusion of an employment contract cannot be denied. In such a case in the situation in question would be the invitation of another employee within the framework of his or her transfer to employ in the position of the resigning employee. In practice, employers often use such grounds in order to justify their refusal to satisfy the cancellation, since they simply do not wish to maintain labor relations with such an “unreliable” employee. In addition, they may refer to a written agreement with another employee which envisages the intention to conclude an employment contract approved by his or her employer.

Nevertheless, employees should be aware of the fact that the above mentioned circumstances and documents do not serve as sufficient grounds for refusal to satisfy the cancellation of a letter of resignation and such a refusal may be contested in court provided the invited employee within the framework of a transfer has not left his or her previous place of employment. The Labor Code of the Russian Federation imposes a ban on refusal to conclude an employment contract only with those employees who are invited in writing within the framework of a transfer from another employer within one month starting from the termination date of an employment contract with the former employer. Yet a voluntary obligation of the employer to hire another employee cannot serve as grounds for refusal to exercise the right to cancel a letter of resignation (Decision No.48-V08-6 of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation dated July 11, 2008).

As it pertains to the legal nature and purposes of introducing rules and regulations for the cancellation of a letter of resignation, employees should pay attention to the following circumstances. In practice, employees sometimes send to employers an application for changing the resignation date specified in the initial letter assuming mistakenly that they exercise their right to cancel the letter of resignation. This right is granted to employees by the Labor Code of the Russian Federation only for purposes of continuing their employment at the given employer. Submission of such an application with the aim of changing the date of termination is not allowed. Termination of employment both prior to and after expiry of a notification period specified in the employee’s letter of resignation is allowed only upon the agreement between the employer and employee.

The term of an employment agreement may be extended even if the employer did not cancel the letter of resignation. In particular, in the event that upon expiry of a notification period the employment contract is not terminated and the employee does not insist on resigning, but rather continues with his or her work and duties.

In conclusion, we would like to recommend to the employees who face with such situations and have realized that their decision was premature, to exercise their rights granted by the Labor Code of the Russian Federation in full. Sometimes, the exercise of this right may become the only correct decision and the employer will be glad to keep the valuable worker.