Resignation (Quit) or Termination (Be Fired): Which is Better and Why [2020]

is it better to quit or be fired

When an employee feels there is an impending termination, it can beg the question, “is it better to quit or be fired?” For employees who are feeling their job security starts to deteriorate, this can be a difficult scenario that requires a multitude of considerations about employee benefits and the severance package before deciding on a resignation (quitting) or allowing the employer to terminate the employee.

For employees, the first thing to do is consider the circumstances. If as an employee, there’s an investigation into a harassment claim or other misconduct (or gross misconduct) in the workplace claims, it may be up to the employee to choose to tender a resignation versus trying to keep the employment at the current job and go through the investigation with human resources.

In some cases, an employee may feel one of the following:

Some of these reasons and conditions are considered wrongful and could be covered under the state’s employment law. In this type of situation, where the employer is creating an intentionally unsafe or hostile work environment, it’s advised the employee seek employment at a new job (or start the job search) and submit their resignation.

If damages occurred due to this unsafe working environment or hostile working environment, the employee should see an employment lawyer who practices in the state and address the previous situation with the employer separately.

Tip: When resigning as an employee due to workplace conditions, it is best to resign with the current employer for “personal reasons” rather than addressing the workplace hostility with the employer right away. Let an employer lawyer handle that situation with you, the previous employee. You may want to list this reason in the resignation letter.

Under these circumstances, it is much better to resign as an employee. Job seekers should not feel compelled, nor should they communicate to a future employer the reason for their resignation (or reason for quitting) being a hostile work environment or other workplace discriminations or disagreements.

Tip: Constructive dismissal, or sometimes referred to as constructive discharge or constructive termination, occurs when an employee resigns as a result of the employer creating a hostile work environment. This is when the employer would say, “I’ll make your job so miserable you’ll want to quit.”

Company Downsizing

In even more common cases, companies are downsizing and a “layoff” is occurring. This is when a team or a group of employees are being terminated. When this occurs there are a number of benefits from this layoff:

As an employee who is being “let go” due to company downsizing, there are options to negotiate the terms of the severance package and benefits. This type of termination is considered okay. And for most employees, when being “laid off” versus terminated, it may be better to go through this process rather than resigning. An employee who was laid off will have the ability to submit an unemployment claim with the state and receive unemployment compensation while seeking out future jobs.

Tip: If you’re an executive employee, you may want to refer to your employment contract to see the details of your arrangement with your employer. It will outline company downsizing and termination bylaws. Unemployment benefits may be covered in this contract as well.

A prospective employer or future hiring manager will have no issue with your reason for seeking new employment being the fact that they were “laid off”. This constitutes the job seeker being a “reasonable employee” and simply having the company experience finance or company structure changes that result in layoffs.

Resignation or Termination

It is much better to resign under hostile work environment situations. Or when an employee feels there will be an upcoming termination of their individual employment. An employer who feels like the employee is not a great fit and is deciding to terminate them may want to consider resigning before that occurs so they have a better chance of seeking out new employment.

Employees who are being asked to either choose to "voluntary quit" or be terminated should choose the resignation route as well. Though, if the reason for the termination is company downsizing and “layoffs”, the employee may want to choose to be laid off rather than resign in order to receive the unemployment insurance benefits and the ability to submit an unemployment claim with the state.

Resignation Letter Resources

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author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur,, SparkHire, and many more.


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