The Human Resource professionals at ThinkHR receive many questions every day. Here are two questions they received recently concerning termination of employees and employees quitting.
WHY TERMINATION ALWAYS COME WITH RISK
I’ve heard it said that termination always comes with risk. What does that mean?
It means there’s always a risk that a terminated employee could make an issue of the termination, claiming that it was discriminatory or based on some other illegal reason. (There’s also the risk that they will bad-mouth your organization on the internet.)
In most cases, employers can terminate an employee for any reason or no reason at all. However, there are a handful of illegal reasons for firing someone, and nothing you do can guarantee that an employee won’t call a lawyer or the Department of Labor and claim that their termination was for one of these illegal reasons, even if you had great documentation and they’d done something completely worthy of termination. This is why no termination is risk-free.
That said, while you can’t eliminate all risk, you can and should do everything in your power to reduce it (e.g., having a clear, well-documented reason for the termination, being respectful to the departing employee). If you have a good reason for the termination, and the terminated employee knows you can provide evidence of this reason, they’re much less likely to try to bring a claim against you.
CAN WE REQUIRE THAT EMPLOYEES GIVE NOTICE BEFORE QUITTING?
Can we require that employees give notice before quitting?
Requiring departing employees to give notice could jeopardize their at-will status (if applicable). To avoid this, we recommend requesting that employees provide notice instead of requiring it. Asking for notice as a professional courtesy makes it more likely that you will have time to make plans to find a replacement or otherwise cover their duties. Two weeks’ notice is most common.
Beyond requesting notice, you can remind employees that their notice (or lack thereof) will be taken into consideration if they seek re-employment with the company or if a future employer asks for an employment reference. If a future employer contacts you for a reference check, you may share that the employee quit with no or insufficient notice if that is true.
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