You can’t quit — You’re FIRED!!

I get several questions each week, from various people across the country, on topics ranging from benefits administration, to compensation, to “I hate my boss, what should I do?” (Not sure how I get that one…)

Most, I simply respond to the email directly, as they don’t have universal appeal. Some, however, do… hence this entry, of course.

I received an email, subject titled, “QUIT JOB.” The sender asked, “If an employee gives notice they are quitting, can I fire them? If so, must I pay them out for their notice period?”

Now, as I’ve oft-said, I’m not an attorney, nor did I sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night. However…

Generally, yes.

In most states, a resignation is just that – a resignation. The employee then offers to stick around for a couple of weeks to help the employer transition. The departing employee, however, doesn’t set their resignation “date,” the employer does. The employer can accept their notice, or not.

Having said that, there are two reasons to accept or pay out a resignation notice:

1. Other employees are watching. This particular employee may not be important, but others may now believe that giving any notice is futile, so that when they resign, they may do so without notice. Consider if you are agreeable to NO employees giving notice.

2. You could be liable for unemployment compensation for that notice period, if the employee is otherwise eligible. Not likely for an extended period of unemployment, but possibly for those two weeks, or whatever the notice period given.

So, do you whack ‘em instantly or let them see through their notice? It’s a business decision that requires some thought. If they are truly a substandard performer – such that you would have fired them within 30 days anyway – then by all means, show them the door. If you may later WANT employees to give you adequate notice, and this is a satisfactory employee, then you may want to consider either allowing them to work their notice period, or paying them for the notice period regardless.

Just my considered, un-legal opinion…



Kevin Berchelmann

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