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Q&A: How do I keep an employee at-will but require them to give notice before leaving?

Question:

How do I keep an employee-at-will but require them to give notice before leaving?

Answer from Monica, SPHR, SHRM-CP:

Unfortunately, an employer may not simultaneously utilize the at-will employment provisions and require that an employee provide notice ahead of separation. Instead, I recommend requesting that employees provide notice as a professional courtesy so that you have time to make plans for their replacement or cover their duties, making the transition smoother for their co-workers and customers.

Beyond this, you may remind employees that their notice (or lack thereof) will be taken into consideration should they seek re-employment with the company or should a future employer seek an employment reference. If future employers contact you for a reference check, you may share that the individual quit with no notice, or did not provide sufficient notice ahead of their separation per the company’s request.

While you can’t require at-will employees to give notice, giving these reminders may encourage employees to provide notice ahead of their departure.

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Monica has held roles as an HR Generalist and Payroll and Benefits Manager at a large ski resort, providing HR guidance to more than 500 employees. She also has HR experience in the healthcare field and the non-profit world. Monica holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Linfield College.

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