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Can I Reduce an Employee’s Temination Notice Period?

Posted on May 28, 2018

An employer asks: “Steve gave his two weeks’ notice today, I’m worried he will be disruptive during these 2 weeks and he will contact clients and perhaps take contact information and other company documents. Can we let him go now?”.

This is a frequent question from employers and usually our answer is “yes,” but there are a couple of things to consider:

  1. If you require two weeks’ notice in your employee handbook, then you can let the employee go immediately, but you must pay out the 2 weeks pay of the notice period.
  2. If you do not require two weeks’ notice, then you should consider the consequences:
  • For the purposes of final pay rules and unemployment insurance, the separation from employment will be considered an involuntary termination and not a voluntary quit. Therefore, you will need to provide the employee with a final check for all wages due, including any accrued and unused vacation or paid time off (PTO) at the time you tell them you are ending their employment. If you were to allow the employee to work the next two weeks, the final wages would be due on the last day of employment, more than 72 hours’ notice was given.
  • The employee will be entitled to unemployment benefits if they file, as the Employment Development Department (EDD) will consider the separation to be “involuntary,” since the employee had stated an intent to work for two additional weeks, and the employer decided to end the employment at an earlier date. If you had allowed the employee to work out the notice period, they would not have been eligible for benefits.

Employers need to weigh the exposure when deciding to cut a notice period short. If the employee truly poses a risk to the environment and the intellectual property of the business, then it may be worth letting them go immediately.

Employers also have the option of letting the employee go and just paying out the notice period regardless of their policy, which may be the safest option. However, the financial impact is much less to allow them to file for unemployment. Either way, the employers should ensure they understand the implications.

Lauren Sims is the article’s author and the eqHR Solutions Director of Human Resources.

Whenever you require professional Human Resources or Payroll guidance to navigate the ever-changing landscape of California and Federal Employment Laws & Regulations, contact us for a no-obligation consultation.

eqHR Solutions provides professional, tactical and strategic human resources support; ADP payroll product implementation/training and payroll processing services for businesses throughout Southern California.