When an employee separates from an organization, it can be a challenging time for both parties. Even if the separation is amicable, managers should take steps aimed at preventing possible disputes over unemployment claims or even lawsuits.
Here are a few points for Texas employers to keep in mind when dealing with employee separations, whether voluntary or involuntary.
While Texas law does not require employers to provide written notice of termination or layoff, a simple notice in writing can be helpful to serve as evidence of the separation date. There have been cases in which employees claimed they did not know they were discharged and were owed for work done outside the office after the separation date.
Reason for Separation
In most cases, employers are not required to explain to an employee why he or she is being discharged. One exception is a situation in which the employee is being discharged as the result of a background check covered by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. In these cases, the employer must explain that the termination is a result of the report, provide the employee with a copy of the report, and provide contact information for the organization that delivered the report.
No advance notice of resignation or termination is required by Texas law. If the employee submits a resignation with advance notice, the employer has the option of accepting, rejecting, or modifying it. If the employer rejects the notice period, they are not required to pay for the time not worked by the employee, as “the duty to pay ends on the date the work separation becomes effective.” (Texas Workforce Commission)
Work Separation Procedures
Employers should prepare themselves for employee separations by having policies and procedures in place for handling these situations. The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) advises that the following actions be taken at the time of separation:
- Make a final wage payment within six calendar days in cases of layoff or discharge, or by the next regularly scheduled payday in cases of employee resignation.
- Give notice under state or federal COBRA laws if the employee was eligible for health insurance.
- In cases of mass layoffs, provide a WARN notice to affected employees and report it to the TWC.
- For employees subject to wage garnishment for child support or alimony, notify the Attorney General’s office within seven days of the separation date. If the employee is owed lump-sum payments of severance pay, bonuses, commissions, accrued leave, or similar post-termination payments, employers must take any due child support or alimony amounts out of such payments.
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