GRACEFUL EXIT: RULES APPLICABLE AND HOW TO LEGALLY ADDRESS THE ISSUEAtty Elvin
Graceful exit is a way by which some employers waive the full extent of their disciplinary policy by allowing the employee facing a live threat of termination to tender resignation instead of facing administrative investigation and eventual sanctions for the irregularities.
Verily, employer’s decision to give the employee a graceful exit rather than to file an action for redress is perfectly within its discretion as it is not uncommon that an employee is permitted to resign to avoid the humiliation and embarrassment of being terminated for just cause after the exposure of her malfeasance. It is settled that there is nothing reprehensible or illegal when the employer grants the employee a chance to resign and save face rather than smear the latter’s employment record. (See Central Azucarera de Bais, Inc. vs. Siason, G.R. No. 215555, July 29, 2015)
There are dangers associated with the offer of graceful exit such as constructive dismissal, harassment, and even actual illegal dismissal. Thus, the employer should be careful such that his good intention will not be seen and the technicality of his error will be highlighted.
The better approach is to first build up and establish the case before offering the graceful exit option. For instance, if X committed fraud through falsification of documents the employer should clearly establish the facts of falsification.
The employer should gather evidentiary documents proving falsification and the amount fraudulently taken. On their own merits, these pieces of evidence should be enough to terminate the employee.
While based on the decision in Central Azucarera it would seem that expressly offering graceful exit is valid, I personally suggest a more cautious approach. Instead of telling the employee in writing to resign as a graceful exit it is better to just inform the employee in writing.
Learn how to craft Company Code of Discipline
In any event, whether the employee refused to accede to the request to resign in writing or verbally, dismissal can still be imposed. Assuming the employee agreed verbally to take the graceful exit option and submits resignation, the employer can accept it in writing by stating the case built up, the possibility of dismissal as penalty, and acceptance of resignation to allow graceful and as a form of humanitarian consideration.
As held by the Supreme Court:
Under the circumstances, the failure of the employer to file action against the employee should be considered as an act of compassion for one who used to be a trusted employee and a close member of the household. (Willi Hahn Enterprises vs. Maghuyop, G.R. No. 160348, December 17, 2004)
Sample acceptance of resignation letter indicating humanitarian consideration and graceful exit:
Sample Notice of Acceptance of Resignation
To: GRACE PULEKSIT
Subject: ACCEPTANCE OF RESIGNATION
This has reference to the letter of resignation which your submitted on _____________, and received by the company on _____________________________.
In said letter, you are asking to resign from your position effective ____________. It appears that the period being sought is in accordance with our policy to render 30-day prior notice.
Prior to the filing of said resignation, you were under administrative investigation for Fraud through Falsification of documents which, if proven, carries a penalty of dismissal.
It appears on record that on ____________ the Internal Audit Department (IAD) discovered erasures in the receipts issued by the company to payments made to it. Upon investigation it was discovered that the receipts were altered as to the amount and the difference between the supposed figure and the alteration was not remitted in the company’s bank account.
You were the one in custody of the receipts mentioned and issued the receipts to client. When the IAD interviewed the client it was mentioned that the amount they paid as reflected in the white copy of the OR is the same as that shown in the original figure before the alteration.
The investigation results clearly show that you are the person responsible for the irregularity. However, in the middle of the investigation you submitted a resignation letter.
While the company does not condone any wrongdoing it also considers the plight of the employee involved. Thus, the company has decided to give you a chance and avail of the graceful exit instead of imposing the penalty of dismissal.
Hence, your resignation is hereby being accepted to take effect as indicated therein. Please settle all your accountabilities, accomplish your clearance and your exit documents for the final release of your final pay.
For your strict compliance.
PETH MALOU NALODI
Learn more about valid dismissal of employees from the book Guide to Valid Dismissal of Employees by Atty. Elvin B. Villanueva