02 May 2017

Recently, more and more clients complain about employees who are resigning orally or without giving the necessary notice period. Unlawful resignation causes uncertainties, inconvenience or in the worst case, serious damages to the employer. In this short article, we collected the four must-knows about unlawful employee resignation in Hungary.

1. Most common forms

It happens often that the employee goes to the HR department and simply says he is resigning. Although, in several countries an oral resignation is valid, in Hungary the resignation of the employee requires written form.

Another common problem is that the employee resigns “effective immediately” completely forgetting about his notice period. In Hungary, a 30 days’ notice period is provided by the law and a termination without notice period is only possible during the probation period.

Many do not know that in case the employee fails to transfer his job-related tasks or the tools of the employer he is possessing counts as unlawful termination.

2. Prevention by education

We have experienced that in many cases, the root of the problem is that employees are not familiar with their obligations regarding resignation. Often, employees rely on questionable sources such as information of webpages or other colleagues.

You can avoid these misunderstandings if you educate your employees about the procedure of termination at your company. You may do it in the employee handbook or by setting up a specific internal policy about the termination rules. The point is to do it in a form which ensures that in one hand, every employee receives the same information and on the other, you can impose sanctions if the employee does not comply with the rules regarding resignation.

The information package needs to contain that in case the employee resigns unlawfully, he shall bear serious financial consequences.

3. To-dos when it becomes reality

Despite your best efforts, it can happen that on a sunshiny day your employee says to you that he is resigning and this is his last day at the workplace. If the employee is replaceable, the best you can do is to sign a mutual agreement about the termination and forget the employee as soon as possible.

A little more complicated is the situation if you need the employee to work since you do not have other staff yet to replace him. In this case, you should inform the employee in writing that his resignation will only be accepted with the applicable notice period and that he is obliged to work during the notice period.

It is a good idea to highlight the financial consequences the employee will face if he fails to show up at the workplace during the notice period.

4. Sanctions

Although, the legal consequences of unlawful resignation are not so serious as the consequences of the wrongful termination by the employer, employees have some liability, too.

An employee who resigns unlawfully shall pay to the employer an amount equal to his salary for the notice period but maximally of 3 months’ absence fee. The employer is entitled to claim damages above this amount but in this case, he needs to prove that the employee caused damages.

What employers need to understand is that even when the employee resigns unlawfully, the employer cannot refuse to hand over the employment related documents of the employee (eg. his pink social security booklet) or the salary he has earned. It is nevertheless clear, that the unlawful act of the employee does not justify the non-compliance with the legal obligations by the employer.