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The Wikipedia page on resignation states the following:

Although government officials may tender their resignations, they are not always accepted. This could be a gesture of confidence in the official, as with US President George W. Bush's refusal of his Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's twice-offered resignation during the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal.

However, refusing a resignation can be a method of severe censure if it is followed by dismissal; Alberto Fujimori attempted to resign as President of Peru, but his resignation was refused in order that Congress could impeach him.

The implication is that a resignation can be refused (potentially leading to being fired), and that the tenderer of the resignation is stuck in their post.

Does this mean that someone who needs to resign in order to quit cannot leave their job of their own volition? If so, what is the reason for such a system (in the USA), and who (in the USA) is in such a position?

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The key word here is "tendered". From Dictionary.com:

verb (used with object)

  1. to present formally for acceptance; make formal offer of: to tender one's resignation.

When someone tenders a resignation, they're just making an offer to resign. Their boss may choose to accept it or not. In politics, it's usually used in an "Someone screwed up, let me resign and take the blame" manner.

If someone actually resigns, rather than simply tendering a resignation, then there's nothing that can be done to keep them in the position.

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  • Thanks, that's what I originally understood. So you're saying that the phenomenon described in the second paragraph from the quotation (ie. where someone wishes to quit but cannot) does not occur in the States? Any government official can, if they wanted to, simply quit? – magicker72 Jan 31 '17 at 15:46
  • @magicker72 - Yes anyone can always quit, although the answer to "I resign" could be "No, you can't resign because I'm firing you." If you want to leave the position, you can. But you may not get to control the narrative around it. – Bobson Jan 31 '17 at 15:59
  • It seems that the American President cannot simply "quit", but must "resign". Is this use of "resign" a synonym of "quit", or can this resignation be refused? Is the whole deal just the narrative, meaning that a refused resignation when the resigner is intent on leaving is just a precursor to being fired? – magicker72 Jan 31 '17 at 16:01
  • @magicker72 "Resign" and "quit" are effectively synonyms; the President's resignation doesn't need to be accepted to be valid. The only government officials who can't quit without permission are military personnel. – cpast Jan 31 '17 at 16:55
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When a person resigns and the employer does not wish to accept the resignation, the next step is up to the employee. For example, is someone resigns and the employer says "I would like to keep you", the employee can say "I will stay if ...". In the case of the political appointees who resign, what it really means is

If you wish me to leave, I am giving you an easy way to handle this.

When the president receives a letter of resignation and does not wish to accept it, he is saying

I would like you to continue in this position and work for me as well.

The person in that position can accept the President's refusal to accept the resignation or can say that he really cannot continue and will leave anyway.

If a person has signed a contract that requires a formal notice before resignation, that that contract can be enforced or waived at the discretion of the two parties involved.

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  • Thanks, that's what I originally understood. So you're saying that the phenomenon described in the second paragraph from the quotation (ie. where someone wishes to quit but cannot) does not occur in the States? Any government official can, if they wanted to, simply quit? – magicker72 Jan 31 '17 at 15:49
  • @magicker72 Yes. Since indentured servitude is forbidden (other than the military draft) then it would be illegal to force a person to stay in a (civilian) job if he insists on leaving. If a person signs a contract that requires a certain amount of notice, then that contract can be enforced. – sabbahillel Jan 31 '17 at 15:53
  • On the other hand, it seems that the American President cannot simply "quit", but must "resign". Is this use of "resign" a synonym of "quit", or can this resignation be refused? – magicker72 Jan 31 '17 at 15:58
  • @magicker72 A resignation in this sense is a formal act of quitting. As the dictionary states An oral or written statement that one is resigning a position or office: It is English usage rather than a difference in meaning. It is usually applied to high profile positions. – sabbahillel Jan 31 '17 at 16:03

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