Employee separations

Employee separation is a sensitive issue for any organization. Usually, an employee leaves the organization after several years of service. Thus, the permanent separation of employees from an organization requires discretion, empathy and a great deal of planning. An employee may be separated as consequence of resignation, removal, death, permanent incapacity, discharge or retirement. The employee may also be separated due to the expiration of an employment contract or as part of downsizing of the workforce. Organizations should never harass the employees, especially in the case of resignation, just because they are quitting the organiza­tion. In fact, a quitting employee of the organization must be seen as a potential candidate of the future for the organization and also the brand ambassador of its HR policies and practices. However, many organizations are still treating their employees as "expendable resources" and discharging them in an unplanned manner whenever they choose to do so.

Each organization must have comprehensive separation policies and procedures to treat the departing employees equitably and ensure smooth transition for them. Further, each employee can provide a wealth of information to the organization at the time of separation. Exit interviews can be conducted by the HR department to ascertain the views of the leaving employees about different aspects of the organization, including the efficacy of its HR policies.


According to Yoder, separation is a negative recruitment. It may be In the form of resignation, dismissal or discharge, suspension, retrenchment or lay-off.

Facts [+]
When someone feels it is time to bid goodbye, in most cases the person is seen as a villain. By some magic, all his good qualities suddenly seem to evaporate and the person is made to feel like a traitor to the cause. Unless someone has been unprofessional, it is important that those who leave do so with good feelings for the company and its people. At the end of the day, former employees who have been treated gracefully at exit time, can be powerful brand ambassadors

A severance agreement is a contract, or legal agreement, between an employer and an employee that specifies the terms of an employment termination, such as a layoff. Sometimes this agreement is called a "separation" or "termination" agreement or "separation agreement general release and covenant not to sue." Like any contract, a severance agreement must be supported by "consideration." Consideration is something of value to which a person is not already entitled that is given in exchange for an agreement to do, or refrain from doing, something.    More >>

Reasons for Separation

Employee separation constitutes the final stage in the staffing process of an organization.An employee can leave the organization for any reason which he deems fit for seeking separation. However, separation is classified basically into two types. These are: voluntary separation and involuntary separation. Voluntary separation refers to the separation of employees on their own request, while involuntary separation means the separation of employees for organizational reasons which are beyond the control of the employees. We shall now discuss the causes of these separations in detail.
  • Voluntary Separation Voluntary separation, which normally begins after a request is placed in this regard by the employee, can happen due to two reasons: professional reason and personal reason. We shall now discuss these reasons in detail.
  • Professional reasons Employees may seek separation when they decide to seek better positions, responsibilities and status outside the present organization. Efficient employees would seek to expand their realm of knowledge and skills continuously by working in different capacities/positions in various organizations. In their quest for greater responsibility, power and status, they may seek separation from the organization.
  • Personal reasons The important personal reasons for voluntary separation are relocation for family reasons like marriage of the employees and health crisis of family members, maternity and child-rearing. For instance, when working women get married, they often prefer to settle in the partners place of occupation. Similarly, an employee may seek voluntary separation to look after the child or parent.
  • Involuntary Separation As mentioned earlier, an involuntary separation is caused by the factors which remain beyond the purview of the employees. However, these factors may be classified broadly into health problems, behavioural problems and organizational problems. We shall now discuss these factors in detail
  • Health problems Major health problems crippling the employees may make them invalid or unfit to continue in the profession. For instance, accidents causing permanent disabilities and illness of the employees like brain stroke and other terminal illnesses can lead to their involuntary separation. Death of employees is another factor which results in their involuntary separation.
  • Behavioural problems An employee's objectionable and unruly behaviour within the organization may also lead to his involuntary separation from the organization. When the employees behaviour is unethical or violates the code of conduct in force, the organization may initiate disciplinary actions, which may eventually result in his termination. This may constitute an act of involuntary separation. Consistent failure to reach performance goals by an employee can also result in his involuntary separation.
  • Organizational problems Organizational problems are another important factor that contributes to the involuntary separation of employees. The poor financial performance of an organization may cause it to terminate the services of some of its employees as part of cost control measure. Such terminations are also classified as involuntary separation. Similarly, automation, organizational restructuring and rationalization can also result in employee termination, discharge or layoff, broadly called involuntary separation.