When an Employee Quits, Your Management Responsibilities Don’t

By, Alexander Hamilton Institute, Inc.

Jack Hunzinger had been a thorn in his manager’s side since day one. His manager, Ally Billson, had numerous reasons why she wanted to get rid of him. However, he beat her to the punch one morning by giving his two weeks’ notice. Billson was relieved she didn’t have to go through the trouble of firing him. Her relief, however, could be slightly premature.

Billson didn’t hesitate to accept Hunzinger’s resignation and even asked him to leave immediately. She didn’t want to risk Hunzinger screwing things up any more. She watched the employee walk out the door, and hopefully out of her life forever.

Sure sounds like a happy ending for the manager. But letting go too quickly of an employee who quits could have unintended consequences.

No law says you must let employees work their entire notice period. You also don’t have to pay employees their regular wages for the notice period if you ask them to leave immediately. There are some good reasons that you should consider, though, for allowing resigning employees to stay on for at least part of their notice period.

  1. Employees may be eligible for unemployment compensation for the period between the day you let them go and the date they gave as their last day.

  2. You may not get the benefit of a notice period from other employees. If they see that their colleagues were shown the door as soon as they handed in their resignation, they may not bother giving you notice so they don’t lose the pay.

  3. You can utilize the employees’ time to ease the transition. Unless they are completely useless (or untrustworthy), you could benefit by having them complete assignments; train a replacement; give a status report on their projects; explain their filing system so you’ll be able to easily get your hands on their information when they’re gone; etc.

  4. You can take the opportunity to tie up your own loose ends, such as distributing the final paycheck, explaining benefits information, and claiming company property (e.g., keys, laptop, uniform).

  5. You should conduct an exit interview. Find out the specific reasons why employees quit. You could learn something about your management style or company benefits or any other issue that you didn’t know was an issue, which you can then work on improving to prevent other employees from quitting.

It’s also important to find out whether there were any discrimination or harassment issues affecting employees’ decision to leave. If so, have a heart-to-heart talk with the workers. It’s a good tactic to help fend off a lawsuit. It’s also a good tactic to help you convince a top-notch employee to reconsider the resignation.

Do some deeper digging into any claims brought up during an exit interview. Be proactive in cleaning up discrimination/harassment messes before other employees quit or file legal complaints.

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