Penalizing employees who resign without notice

October 7, 2005

Over the past five years, three employees have quit on the spot, without a hint that they'd ever been unhappy. This seems unfair, since our group's office policy manual states that we give two weeks salary as severance pay if we fire someone. Can we implement a policy that would penalize workers who leave without warning?

Q: Over the past five years, three employees have quit on the spot, without a hint that they'd ever been unhappy. This seems unfair, since our group's office policy manual states that we give two weeks salary as severance pay if we fire someone. Can we implement a policy that would penalize workers who leave without warning?

A: It depends on your state law. An employee is entitled to wages earned through the last day of employment, regardless of the circumstances behind her leaving. But some states let you make staffers forfeit unused vacation and sick time if they quit. Check with the wage-and- hour division of your state's labor department.

If several employees have left without notice, investigate the reason; perhaps you need to change the way you run your office.