Difference between Resignation and Voluntary retirement

Difference between Resignation and Voluntary retirement


According to service jurisprudence, the expressions “superannuation”, “voluntary retirement”, “compulsory retirement” and “resignation” convey different connotations. Voluntary retirement and resignation involve voluntary acts on the part of the employee to leave service. Though both involve voluntary acts, they operate differently.  resignation it can be tendered at any time, but in the case of voluntary retirement, it can only be sought for after rendering prescribed period of qualifying service. Other Major distinction is that in case of the former, normally retiral benefits are denied but in case of the latter, the same is not denied. In case of the former, permission or notice is not mandated, while in case of the latter, permission of the employer concerned is a requisite condition. Though resignation is a bilateral concept, and becomes effective on acceptance by the competent authority, yet the general rule can be displaced by express provisions to the contrary. In Punjab National Bank v. P.K. Mittal [AIR 1989 SC 1083] on interpretation of Regulation 20(2) of the Punjab National Bank Regulations, it was held that resignation would automatically take effect from the date specified in the notice as there was no provision for any acceptance or rejection of the resignation by the employer

Difference  between Resignation and Voluntary retirement

The words “resignation” and “retirement” carry different meanings in common parlance. An employee can resign at any point of time, even on the second day of his appointment but in the case of retirement he retires only after attaining the age of superannuation or in the case of voluntary retirement on completion of qualifying service. The effect of resignation and retirement to the extent that there is severance of employment (sic is the same) but in service jurisprudence both the expressions are understood differently. Under the Regulations, the expressions “resignation” and “retirement” have been employed for different purpose and carry different meanings. The Pension Scheme herein is based on actuarial calculation; it is a self-financing scheme, which does not depend upon budgetary support and consequently it constitutes a complete code by itself. The Scheme essentially covers retirees as the credit balance to their provident fund account is larger as compared to employees who resigned from service. Moreover, resignation brings about complete cessation of master-and-servant relationship whereas voluntary retirement maintains the relationship for the purposes of grant of retiral benefits, in view of the past service. Similarly, acceptance of resignation is dependent upon discretion of the employer whereas retirement is completion of service in terms of regulations/rules framed by the department.

The said provision which was added subsequently, in no uncertain terms reads “an employee is permitted to retire at any time on completion of the age of 55 years after giving 3 months’ notice in writing to the appointing authority of his intention to retire.” The other option is that an employee is permitted to retire at any time after he has completed 20 years of qualifying service. The stress is laid on the word “retire”. No where does it read or anything more could be read into this provision to treat the word ‘retire’ on par with ‘resignation’. The whole gamut of this provision is that the pensionary benefits are extended only to those persons who have completed 55 years and choose to retire or who have completed 20 years of service who want to exercise the option of voluntary retirement and on the other hand resignation or dismissal or removal or termination or compulsory retirement of an employee from the service of the Corporation shall entail forfeiture of his entire past service and consequent shall not qualify for pensionary benefits.


Resignation can be tendered irrespective of the length of service whereas in the case of voluntary retirement, the employee has to complete qualifying service for retiral benefits. Further, there are different yardsticks and criteria for submitting resignation vis-a-vis voluntary retirement and acceptance thereof. Since the Pension Regulations disqualify an employee, who has resigned, from claiming pension, the respondent cannot claim membership of the fund.

On the contrary, as noted by this Court in Dinesh Chandra Sangma v. State of Assam [(1977) 4 SCC 441] while the Government reserves its right to compulsorily retire a government servant, even against his wish, there is a corresponding right of the government servant to voluntarily retire from service. Voluntary retirement is a condition of service created by statutory provision whereas resignation is an implied term of any employer-employee relationship.”

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