It is a popular myth that employers can refuse to accept an employee's resignation. In reality, it is up to the employee to decide to resign, and an employer cannot prevent you leaving according to the terms of your contract. However, there are aspects of UK employment law you need to consider when deciding to submit your resignation.
Right to Resign
By law, you have the right to resign. A UK employer cannot force you to remain in their employment, and they do not have to accept or agree to your resignation. If you have a supervisor who is being obstructive in terms of your decision to leave, then you may prefer to submit your intention to leave to another member of staff, perhaps someone in the HR department or the supervisor's line manager.
Verbal or Written Resignation?
If your supervisor or employer is refusing to accept a verbal resignation, it may be that the terms of your contract demand a written resignation. When deciding to resign you do not necessarily have to submit your intention in writing; a verbal resignation is often acceptable, unless you have a written contract that specifies otherwise. Once you submit a resignation, verbal or otherwise, you cannot generally retract it unless your employer agrees.
When leaving your job, statutory law in the UK requires you to give the employer one week's notice, providing you have worked for that employer for longer than a month. If you have a written contract, it is legally binding and may require you to complete a longer notice period than one week. In this instance your supervisor or employer would be within his or her rights to object to you leaving before the end of the notice period.
Your Employer's Rights
Always check the terms of your contract when submitting your resignation. If you have not been given a contract or statement detailing the terms and conditions of your employment, then the employer has no rights at all and you can leave at any time. However, if you leave your employment without completing the contractual notice period you are in breach of contract, and the employer could justifiably make a claim against you at an employment tribunal.