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Although it’s customary for an employee to give an employer two weeks’ notice prior to leaving a job, there's no rule that you must accept that notice and keep the staffer for the two weeks. There are a variety of reasons why it's prudent to refuse notice and simply let the employee out of work responsibilities as soon she announces her resignation.
Many companies have a policy regarding how resignation, termination and notice are handled. Talk with your direct supervisor or your human resources department to get clarification about your company policy. For example, many financial institutions and companies with highly confidential information forgo any notice because they don't want to run the risk of the exiting employee using his final weeks to copy files or take proprietary information with him. Once you know your company policy, cite that policy to the employee when you refuse his two weeks’ notice.
If you've had numerous issues with the employee who gives notice, it might be in everyone's best interest to let her move on without subjecting the office to an additional two weeks of uncomfortable interaction. This type of employee is not likely to be productive during her final weeks on the job, and as long as she doesn't hold a vital position that needs to be filled immediately, let her off the hook and tell her two weeks’ notice is not necessary. “I appreciate you giving notice, but I think it's in everyone's best interest if we make this your final day. I'll make sure human resources has a final check and exit paperwork for you by the close of business today.”
If the employee quits in a heated argument or gives you an angry resignation followed by a grudging two weeks’ notice, refuse his overtures. “Obviously, you're not happy here, so I don't want to force you to stay for another two weeks. Go ahead and pack up your desk, turn in your keys and your security badge and I'll make arrangements for an exit interview with human resources before the end of the day.”
Although some employees give two weeks’ notice and use the time to professionally complete projects and give the employer a chance to find a replacement, others give notice simply as a way to avoid getting a bad referral in the future. If you refuse an employee’s offer of two weeks’ notice, reassure her that the quick exit won't be held against her if a potential employer calls for a reference. “This is a company decision and will not be held against you.”
Some employees may feel slighted by the refusal of notice. The employee might want to connect with clients, say goodbye to colleagues or need an additional few weeks of pay. If you refuse to accept the notice, be sure to have a process in place to officially wrap up that employee’s business obligations by end of the day.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.