Resignation, Discipline, and Termination

It's often hard to lose or let go of an employee. But adding this section to your handbook can ensure that both you and your employees are on the same page if and when a resignation or termination occurs.

This document is a template for you to create and explain your approach to resignations and terminations as part of your employee handbook. You can read below or download it as a PDF here.

Note that we have specified in [brackets] areas that you should change yourself, such as inserting your company name or adding more detail.

Note: this template is not a legal document and does not consider local, state-specific, national, or international laws. Each state and locality may have very different laws and policies. So please consult an employment lawyer in your state to approve your resignation and termination policy, and your employee handbook as a whole.

What's included in this article:

  • Resignation
  • Resignation under duress
  • Reimbursement for tuition or other costs
  • Disciplinary action
  • Termination
  • With cause
  • Without cause
  • Compensation and severance pay
  • Unemployment insurance
  • References

Resignation from your job

If you wish to resign from the company, you should first have a conversation with your manager and then let them know of your final decision. We would ask that you also send a written communication to your manager, which can be a simple email saying that you plan to resign and the date that you will do so.

You are under no obligation to provide advance notice, but for courtesy's sake, we ask that you give us as much notice as possible. For the average employee, that should be at least two weeks, and for an executive position - or another critical role - we ask for at least 4 weeks.

Also if you decide to resign, it's possible that we will ask you to help in hiring or interviewing your replacement.

Please ask your manager if you wish to share your resignation with the rest of your team in advance.

Resignation under duress

A resignation should occur with your full consent and intention. If instead of exercising your own choice you are being forced to resign, please contact your manager or an executive.

If you are facing a hostile work environment, being retaliated against, or being pushed out of the company such as through facing demotions or an unattainable workload, please contact your manager or an executive.

Reimbursement for tuition or other costs

If the company has paid for you to undergo tuition or training, it is typically required of you to remain with the company for at least [two years]. If you resign before completing your time, you may have to repay part or all of the fee, prorated to the amount of time that you spent with the company after your program.

Similarly, if the company has paid significant fees such as a relocation fee or other expenses to secure your employment and you resign prematurely, you may be required to repay part or all off those fees.

Disciplinary action

Before considering termination, there are different forms of discipline or feedback that we may provide, as an opportunity to learn and improve. Depending on the nature and severity of an infraction, or the quality of performance, we want to assist when possible. However, we will deal with serious offenses harshly.

Our forms of disciplinary action or feedback may include:

  • Verbal warnings
  • Discussion with manager
  • A formal, written warning
  • A formal meeting to discuss disciplinary action and possible action
  • Penalties, including demotions or loss of responsibilities, bonuses, or suspension
  • Termination

If you commit a minor workplace violation, you're only like to get a warning. However, repeated infractions may result in more serious action.

For more serious cases, we will directly communicate to you that you are receiving disciplinary action. If you receive negative feedback, it may not necessarily be disciplinary action. If you are ever unsure of where you stand, please ask your manager.

We commit to acting fairly, with high ethical standards, and within the law in our disciplinary process. Further, will will document each step.

For a reminder of what may constitute an inappropriate action or offense, please review the workplace policy document here.

Termination of employment

Sometimes, the priorities or realities of the business will require the termination of an employee. We know that this can be difficult, so we aim to act with the highest level of responsibility and follow the law.

Before we begin, it's important to note that that the United States has "at-will" employment, which means that you can be fired without cause, for almost any reason, without warning, as long as that reason is not illegal, for example workplace discrimination. We will not go into the full details in this policy, but you can read more about at-will employment here as well as some of the exceptions.

Ultimately, regardless of at-will employment, we have laid out clear policies to define how we deal with employee terminations.

There are two different types of termination: with cause and without cause.

For cause termination

An employee terminated for cause will be because of a violation of contract, duty, or ethical standards of conduct. For example:

  • Poor performance below expectations
  • Causing financial losses for the company
  • Harassing or intimidating colleagues
  • Creating a hostile work environment
  • Engaging in illegal conduct

Other possible violations are covered in our workplace policies, and many of these may result in termination depending on the severity of the infraction.

Managers are responsible for providing evidence and documentation of an employee's termination for cause. If you believe you are being wrongly terminated, without cause, please contact the executive team.

In order to stand up for yourself in these types of situations, we recommend that you keep secure records of important communications, and also that you keep a detailed calendar/schedule to ensure you have a clear accounting of your time and contributions.

Without cause

In the unfortunate event that the business experiences a shift in direction or financial situation, there is always a possibility for layoffs or down-sizing. Sometimes, it's simply the nature of the business and we are sorry for this.

In the case of a termination without cause, you will be served with a termination notice. However, you may also be eligible for severance pay and/or unemployment benefits, as detailed below.

Compensation and severance pay

If you are terminated, you may be eligible to receive severance pay. And if you are terminated without cause, we will do our best to help you find work elsewhere and provide references.

You may also receive severance pay for unused vacation and sick days, if you are terminated without cause. This may be subject to different state laws.

Unemployment insurance

If you become unemployed, particularly if you are terminated without cause, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits, which could be up to $450 per week.

It is recommended that you contact your State Unemployment Insurance agency as soon as you become unemployed, so that you can file your claim.

Note that there are often filing requirements to accessing unemployment insurance, and you can be required to be actively looking for work during that period.

You can read more about unemployment benefits on the US Department of Labor website here.

References for new work

As mentioned above, we will provide a reference for you if you are terminated without cause and if you have acceptable or strong performance. Please ask your manager if they are able to do this for you.

In the case of a resignation, we may also provide references, but are under no obligation to do so.