Traps for the Unwary: Responding When An Employee Quits

Traps for the Unwary: Responding When An Employee Quits

Excerpted from Lexology by Akerman LLP

You may have been there: a valuable employee angered by some new development, announces “I quit!” and storms out, then shows up for work the next day as though nothing happened. Or a rapidly failing underperformer submits a written resignation, but it’s not effective until 60 days later. What’s an employer to do? Can/should an employer march them out the door?

A voluntary resignation can be unintentionally converted into an involuntary discharge if the employer isn’t careful, and the consequences can prove costly. Below are some of the more common scenarios involving tricky resignations, and some of the measures that employers might take to minimize issues.

Respond Quickly and Carefully

Communication is key in every employment relationship. When an employee gives notice of his/her departure without providing the customary details such as effective date, status of projects, and who should handle what, the employer should quickly follow up to confirm the employee’s notice and implement an exit plan. Employers that fail to do so may find themselves facing some difficult conversations down the line.

A case in point: After being verbally reprimanded by a supervisor, an employee shouts “I quit!” in the hallway outside his office and storms out. The next day, the employee does not come in to work, despite being scheduled to work for the full day. HR processes a termination packet and prepares the worker’s last paycheck. Two days later, but before the final paycheck is mailed, the employee shows up, apologizes, and returns to his office. If the company proceeds to process his termination, does it do so as a voluntary resignation or involuntary termination?
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