If you’re intending on resigning from your job, you should have a plan in place for that initial conversation with your boss. Prepare your key talking points and practice your delivery with confidence in advance. However, not all bosses take the news very well. You should also be prepared to handle an emotional or harsh reaction.
However, in some very extreme cases, I’ve seen some bosses totally reject a resignation. If you really think your boss could go nuclear, here’s how to handle that situation.
How to Quit Your Job: What to Do If Your Boss Says No
First off, you are not obligated to stay in your job. However, you do need to ensure you’re meeting your contractual obligations. Take a look at your employee agreement or contract. If your employment is “at-will” (most jobs are), your employer can legally terminate you without having to establish a just cause, and conversely, you can leave freely without a cause either. If your contract specifies that you’ll be working there for a specific amount of time and you choose to break the contract, that’s a different story and you’ll likely want to involve an attorney.
Second, be sure to review the employee agreement to make sure you comply with obligations associated with your departure. Stipulations may include how much notice you need to give to resign, certain contingencies, or limitations on where you can work next (see the non-compete clause for this info).
Third, once you’ve ensured you’re meeting your obligations, have a conversation or send an email to your boss to firmly reiterate your resignation effective date, and that you are moving forward with your notice. Also be firm with your end date and final deliverables you will complete. You can mention your appreciation for their determination to keep you, but be clear that you will be leaving and that you will work to make your departure a smooth transition for everyone involved.
Look on the positive side and take the rejection as a compliment—it’s clear you’re an essential part of the team, and you will be sorely missed. If this is a dysfunctional environment and you have all the institutional knowledge, they very well may suffer significantly from your departure. That is not your problem. Embrace the freedom and opportunity to succeed in your next endeavor.
If you’re still getting pushback and your boss refuses to accept your resignation, consult an employment attorney.