Termination of employment, whether voluntary or involuntary, can be one of the most stressful events an employer faces. Depending on the reason for the termination, employees may have different rights, and employers may have different responsibilities. The Steps to Success interactive guides featured in this section are designed to give employers a clear picture of the key action steps involved in both involuntary and voluntary terminations, from developing an effective termination policy to satisfying post-termination obligations. To get started, click on the appropriate link in the left-hand navigation.
The following overview highlights some common reasons for termination of employment, as well as key differences between voluntary and involuntary terminations which may impact an employer's responsibilities before, during, and after the termination.
The reason that an employee leaves your company may affect your responsibilities and the employee’s post-termination rights. For example:
Even when an employee “quits” or resigns, sometimes in the eyes of the law, a resignation may be viewed as an involuntary termination. These situations are referred to as “constructive discharges.” This type of discharge occurs when an employer imposes intolerable working conditions in violation of the law, such as those related to discrimination or sexual harassment, that compel a reasonable employee to quit. This conclusion may be reached regardless of the employer’s intention to force the employee to resign.
Alerts you to the penalties associated with key federal laws such as COBRA and discrimination.
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