We make available to our clients and business associates a service called HR360 at NO CHARGE. This is a $750 value. If you would like to have access to HR360, just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with “HR360” in the subject line. One of the recent telecasts from HR360 was about how to react when an employee gives their two-week notice.
It’s a busy Monday morning and half your team is out with the flu while you’re prepping for the afternoon’s client presentation. One of your employees comes into your office to give their two-week notice. Should you demand their company ID and tell the employee to leave right away? Or should you let the employee continue to work for the two-week resignation period.
Employee turnover is inevitable but there are several ways you can respond when an employee gives their two-week notice.
Make sure you comply with the law. Most states have adopted the employment-at-will doctrine which generally allows you to discharge an employee without advance notice for virtually no reason at all.
However, employment-at-will may be restricted by a statute, such as a non-discrimination law or an express agreement to the contrary such as a contract with either the employee or union. So, it is important to understand which federal and/or state laws and contract provisions apply to your company.
Look carefully at your employee handbook. Courts have ruled that handbooks that do not have a proper employment-at-will disclaimer may lead employees to reasonably expect continued employment.
Even with a clear and calm and prominent disclaimer the handbook shouldn’t make any promises contrary to the employment-at-will statement.
While we are talking about the employee handbook check to see if company policy requires employees to give a two-week notice before leaving. If it does and you send your employee packing before the two weeks are up you may be liable for the two weeks of work that were denied. The summarily dismissed worker could also file for unemployment benefits for the two-week period which could adversely affect your unemployment insurance rates.
If these limitations do not apply to your situation and you’re concerned that you’re departing employee may create a negative impression with clients and coworkers, employment-at-will lets you send the employee home as soon as notice is given.
Some employers faced with this situation opt to pay the employee for the two-week period the departing employee intended to work. This course of action helps to forestall the thorny problems previously listed that can arise with immediate dismissal. But also eliminates concerns you may have about the employee hanging around during the resignation period such as stealing clients or trade secrets or simply “bad-mouthing” the company and distracting other employees.
In some cases, however, you may want to let the departing employee serve out their two weeks even if there is no legal cause to do so.
Remember, termination employees when they give notice sends a message to other employees who may choose to leave without warning when they find a new job.
While employment at will give you freedom to fire employees it gives employees equal freedom to resign with no notice.
If the employee is in good standing and can be expected to work diligently until the day of departure, allowing the final two weeks signals your commitment to the remaining employees. It allows the employee to alert clients of their departure, to shift responsibilities to their colleagues and to provide training to those colleagues. If the employee has been a valuable contributor and you have confidence in the person’s integrity this option helps make for a smoother transition.
James P. Randisi, President of Randisi & Associates, Inc., has since 1999 been helping employers protect their clients, workforce and reputation through implementation of employment screening and drug testing programs. This post does not constitute legal advice. Randisi & Associates, Inc. is not a law firm. Always contact competent employment legal counsel. Mr. Randisi can be contacted by phone at 410.494.0232 or Email: email@example.com or the website at randisiandassociates.com