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Exit interview is a must

August 6, 2013

Article courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner AdvanceHR

Whether an employee quits or is fired, there are several issues you need to understand. Read on to learn how to protect your company and how to conduct a beneficial exit interview.

Question:
One of my employees is leaving because her husband is being transferred to another state. Now I discover she has already filed for unemployment. In fact, I have already received the notice from Job Service. What’s the best way to handle this situation?

Answer:
Have the employee sign a letter of resignation saying that she will be leaving because of her husband’s job transfer and put the letter in her personnel file. That will be sufficient evidence to show that you didn’t terminate her employment and that she left voluntarily.

Also, update her personnel file with the date she first informed you she was leaving and the date you received the notice from the Job Service.

If there were any witnesses when she told you her reason for leaving, have them sign written statements of what they heard and add those to the file.

As you would with any departing employee, conduct an exit interview to gather valuable information that can help improve your workplace and uncover any hidden reasons people may have for leaving. Have a witness present who can sign a written summary of the interview and put this in the employee’s personnel file.

Among the questions to ask:

  1. What did you like about your work with us?
  2. What didn’t you like about your work with us?
  3. What changes would you recommend we make to make our company a more attractive employer?
  4. What is your reason for leaving?

Better Yet: Write up an exit interview form with similar questions and have the employee fill in the answers and sign the form. Put the form in her personnel file.

Finally, if you have received a notice that she filed a claim for unemployment benefits, respond by stating she voluntarily quit and be prepared to present your documentation at a hearing.

Fired Employee Owes Money

Question:
I fired an employee for violating company rules, one of which resulted in the employee owing the company money. I withheld the employee’s last paycheck until the money is paid back. Now the employee has gotten a lawyer and is threatening to sue to get the paycheck. Do I have to give the employee the paycheck with no guarantee that I will ever get back the money back?

Answer:
With very few exceptions, you cannot withhold the final paycheck of a fired employee, including situations where the employee owes you money or has company property in his or her possession.

Federal law requires you to pay your employees what you owe them, deducting only money that you are legally required or legally allowed to take out, such as taxes and Social Security.

State laws vary, so check your state’s regulations. In most states you must have your employee’s written authorization to deduct for debts.

In both of these situations, the importance of having documented human resources practices and an employee handbook are outlined.  For more information on how to update or create a handbook for your organization, click here.

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