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 the Unemployment Agency. What’s the best way to handle this situation?
We’ve heard a number of managers refer to probationary periods and make statements such as “we can terminate them within the first 90 days of employment because they’re in a probationary period.” Even in an at will employment relationship (for the states which recognize at will employment), termination during a probationary period could still result in potential liability for your company in the event of an unemployment claim or other lawsuit (discrimination, harassment, etc).
Whether an employee has worked for your company for 1 day or 10 years, there is still potential liability. For example, in Michigan, the wages for the last five quarters at all jobs the employee has worked are used when determining benefit eligibility. So even if the person was only employed by your company for two weeks or two days, they could still be eligible for benefits if their wages from all employers in the last five quarters meet the minimum threshold.
Suppose an employee gives his or her resignation, effective in three weeks, but you decide to accept the resignation effective immediately instead. Should the employee be paid through the date of intended resignation? You are not required to pay the employee through the intended resignation date unless your business requires a notice of resignation. If you simply “request” a certain amount of notice, federal law doesn’t require you to pay the employee if you ask him or her to leave before the end of the notice period, although most employers do. But be careful. Continue reading
In most states, in order to collect unemployment benefits a worker must be either unemployed or underemployed. An unemployed worker has no earnings in a week; an underemployed worker is one who has some earnings in a week but is still entitled to some unemployment benefits for that week either due to a reduction in hours worked or a reduction in pay rate.
However, a person who is working full time in a week is not unemployed or underemployed and therefore cannot receive unemployment benefits for that week unless their regular wages have been reduced.
A common assumption among employers is that having a probationary period at the beginning of employment provides a safe-guard in terms of unemployment. For example, a company might have a 90 day probationary period for all new hires. A manager’s assumption is that they can terminate an employee during that 90 day window and the employee would be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits because they are still a “probationary” employee.
This is not the case.