Q: If an employee puts in their notice, can we let them go that day instead of keeping them for the full notice period?
A: Unless there is a contract or agreement to the contrary, employers are under no obligation to keep an employee on during their resignation notice period or to provide them with compensation for the duration of that period. However, there are a couple of issues to consider before accepting an employee's resignation early.
First, if you ask the employee not to work the remainder of the notice period and do not pay them for that time, the resignation may become an involuntary termination in the eyes of the state’s unemployment insurance department. Note that the effect of a single claim on your UI tax rate is likely to be small to nonexistent. However, if you’re concerned about that, you can pay the employee for the full notice period, but ask them not to come into work.
Second, terminating the employee before their resignation period comes to an end could motivate other employees to forego giving adequate notice in the event they resign. By terminating an employee immediately, rather than letting them earn two more weeks of pay, you’re effectively telling other employees that you don’t honor notice periods. As a result, they may not see the point in giving you that courtesy.
Ultimately, the choice to terminate early – with or without pay – is up to your discretion. There are certainly good reasons to ask an employee not to return to the office once they have offered you notice. Just keep in mind that there may be other reasons to go ahead and pay them for their notice period, even if you don’t want them to continue to work.
Learn these 5 mistakes to avoid during a termination meeting by watching our free, 30-minute webinar. Also, get practical tips on how to approach the meeting, conducting the meeting, and communicating the termination to your employees.