Pay for departure??

I know we have to pay them when they come to work (many have tried to avoid this — doesn’t work out well), but why on earth would I actually pay someone to leave?? I’m not speaking of severance, which is quid pro quo (I give you money, you sign an agreement); I’m referring to simply paying one or more weeks to someone who voluntarily and quietly (reasonably) is leaving your employment.

Well, there could be an instance where you should do exactly that.

You walk into your office, and there’s that dreaded envelope that someone slid under the door. Or there’s a letter on your desk when you return from lunch. Or there’s an email from a subordinate, subject titled, “resignation.”

They all mean the same thing — someone’s leaving. Quitting. Bailing on you.

Hasta la vista, baby.

Never mind the reasons for now; never mind the efforts to keep them if necessary and prudent. They’ve given you notice of their departure, and that notice is reasonable and customary for the industry, your company, and their position.

But frankly, for one reason or another, you really don’t want them around for that 1,2, or maybe even 3 week notice period. Perhaps they are not the most positive person on the planet; perhaps you’re concerned about confidentiality in general; perhaps you know they are going to work for your competition (shame on you for not having a valid non-compete).

Whatever the reasons, you want them gone now, not weeks from now. Must you pay them for that notice??

In most, if not all, states, the answer is “no,” you are not required to pay someone for notice. There may be a minor hiccup in Unemployment Compensation if any (small issue), but you don’t ordinarily have to pay someone for their notice if you want them to instead leave immediately.

The bigger question… should you?

Hmmm, let’s look at this. Now, I’m speaking here of non-sales positions; typically, we let sales professionals go immediately since we worry about their remaining (really a senseless worry, since — assuming they had a mind to — they already have everything they need). We’re talking here of staff contributors and managers. Should we pay them if we want them to leave now, though they gave us reasonable notice of their separation?


Realize, as I’ve said elsewhere before, a basic tenet of motivation: That which is rewarded is repeated. And it’s not just our reward; it could be our observation of someone else’s reward. In other words, if your current employees see that, typically, when someone resigns, you send them packing immediately without payment for their notice, what do you think will happen?

People will continue to resign, so that’s not it.

No, what will begin happening is resignations will no longer have a notice period. Friday afternoon, around 2:30-3:00, will become the bewitching hour where you find out who will be available to work the next week.

Can you really afford to have every position leave you, unannounced, with no notice of departure?

Paying for those 2 weeks mentioned above doesn’t seem so onerous now, does it?

This isn’t carte blanche payment for all resignations. Some will resign, knowing the end was near, or knowing that most really wanted them to leave. We can probably survive withholding payment to these. But regular, routine resignations, even if from average players… you may want to seriously consider paying them to leave early.

So others will continue to give you the choice in that matter.

Give it some thought…


Kevin Berchelmann

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