Our company competes for contracts in the health-care industry. Sometimes employees leave us for better positions with our competitors. This happened recently when a lower-level accounts receivable employee gave two weeks’ notice. Management, however, told her to leave at the end of the day. There was some debate as to whether this was necessary, since she didn’t serve in a strategy-forming role and had no access to any “secret” processes or work practices (although she did prepare the monthly accounting reports). In some instances when employees resign, it can be prudent to allow them to finish immediately and pay them to the end of their notice period. For future reference, how do we create a checklist of circumstances to guide us in these situations?
— No Knee-Jerk, HR leader, Louisville, Kentucky
Dear No Knee-Jerk:
Generally speaking, it’s good to let employees go as quickly as possible, including the same day they give their notice. If you do that, it’s very important to give pay in lieu of notice to ensure that the employee does not leave with a negative feeling. It also preserves a positive image with the other employees in the organization, and maintains a perception of trust and fair treatment.
Here are some pros and cons of keeping the person throughout the notice period as opposed to immediate dismissal. You may be able to add your own pros and cons to this list.
|Keep for the length of the notice period||Allows time for transfer of knowledge and training to others||If leaving with negative feelings, may create low morale for others|
|Retains expertise when there is no backup to do the work May not be as committed or productive||May not be as committed or productive|
|Allows friends in the company to throw a “leaving party,” have closure, show appreciation|
|Dismiss same day or day after notice given||Limits any security exposure||Theft of information or property typically occurs before giving notice|
|Limits contamination of other employees’ attitudes||May create morale issues for those who are given the extra work|
|Expedites organization change||May create morale issues for those who are given the extra work|
From the analysis of pros and cons, the following might be used to determine what action to take. This survey creates a “risk score” from which your company can determine the threshold for immediate dismissal.
|Risk Analysis for Allowing an Employee to Work During Notice of Voluntary Termination|
|1 is Strongly Disagree and 10 is Strongly Agree|
|The company’s proprietary information must be protected.||1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10|
|The department’s productivity will increase upon vacancy.||1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10|
|The project/work of the leaving employee must be protected.||1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10|
|The employee is leaving with a negative attitude.||1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10|
|The employee has displayed low productivity recently.||1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10|
|The employee gave less than a standard amount of notice.||1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10|
|The employee’s work can be transferred easily.||1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10|
|Morale will most likely increase after the employee leaves.||1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10|
|Customers will not be adversely affected by the employee’s leaving.||1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10|
|Total Score||________ /90_______|
|Company’s threshold for working through the notice period||_________/90_______|
If the total score is less than your threshold, allow the employee to work through the notice period. For example, let’s say the company decides the threshold is 30/90. If the manager rates the survey in a way that results in a score of 20/90, it may be in the best interest of the company to keep the employee working during the notice period. If the manager rates the survey so the score is 60/90, it would be best to dismiss the employee as soon as possible.
Keep in mind that tools like this should be used as a guideline only. There may be circumstances that suggest one outcome over another, regardless of the score. A manager’s prerogative should be given the most weight in any discussion, but often the manager will appreciate a guideline to use in evaluating the situation.
LEARN MORE: Termination Checklist.
The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.
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