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Question added to topic Human ResourcesApril 10, 2008

Do I still have to pay an employee through their 2 weeks notice?

If an employee gives a 2 week notice to leave the company, is it required to pay him the 2 weeks if it's decided to end his employment at the time of notice?

I have had employees give notice, but I wanted to terminate the employment when they handed their notice in. I was informed that even if I did this, I would have to pay them for the 2 weeks that they were willing to work. Is this correct?
I always recommend checking your own company's employee manual first. If it says that you do pay in lieu of notice, then you should do so; (although it sounds to me like you want to then take action to change that policy if it does say that you pay in lieu of notice). If the policy manual is silent on this subject, you are legally required to pay for all time worked by an individual, but not for time not actually worked. If the employee departing is exempt, you would be wise to pay him for the entire week if he worked for part of the week in which he gave you his notice. But other than that, you are not legally required to pay anyone for their notice period if you want to release them immediately for any reason.

I also highly recommend having a termination policy that explains how you do handle terminations of all kinds and to specify in that policy what you expect from departing employees and how you handle pay for unused or accrued vacation, return of company property and so forth.

You may want to take a longer-term view of the advantages of paying in lieu of notice by using the leverage paying in lieu of notice can provide to you. That is, you may say in your policy that management will consider paying in lieu of notice in certain situations that make sense for the company and if a resigning employee offers two weeks of working notice, agrees to train whoever will be doing the departing employee’s work, and if all company property is returned in good condition and so forth. Also, your reputation as an employer can be damaged with the employees who are not leaving, just yet, if you treat departing employees in what can be perceived as a spiteful fashion. So, think through how you want to handle this potentially negative matter and strategize what will really be the best practice for you and your business. Hope this is helpful.

Penny is a seasoned human resources executive and consultant with over 25 years of diverse business experience in advising enterprise leaders on employment-related matters.

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