Employee Separation Process

Employee Separation is the process of ensuring that an employee who quits the company is exited in a structured and orderly manner.

The process of employee separation is taken quite seriously by many firms and there is a dedicated department to handle employee exits from the company.

In this article we discuss the process of employee separation and the differences between voluntary and involuntary exits.

Voluntary and Involuntary Separation

Employee separation can be voluntary as well as involuntary. The former is when the employee quits the company on his or her own accord. This is the most common form of employee separation though in these recessionary times, involuntary separation or the act of asking the employee to leave by management is quite common.

This form of employee separation where an employee is asked to quit is called involuntary separation. The difference in these two forms of separation is that for voluntary exits, the employee stands to get most of the benefits and perks due to him or her whereas when an employee is asked to leave, he or she might get a separation package or in instances where disciplinary or performance related exits take place, the employee might not get anything at all.

Components of the Employee Separation Process

The employee separation process starts from the time the employee gives notice to his or her employer about the intention to quit. This is usually called “putting in one’s papers” because in earlier times, an employee was required to submit a formal resignation letter, though in recent times, this is being done by email.

Once the employee gives notice, all the financial transactions and records of the employee are “frozen” by the HR department and the employee’s manager is tasked with the process of ensuring proper handover and closure of work tasks allotted to the employee.

Usually, the notice period ranges from a month to two to three months depending on the level at which the employee is working. Further, there has to be a well defined handover plan drawn up by the employee’s manager that covers all aspects of closing out on the work that the employee is performing.

Participants in the Employee Separation Process

Typically, the employee separation process proceeds along two parallel tracks. One involves the employee and the manager and is concerned with the handover of work and other tasks. The other track is by the separations team and deals with the employee benefits accruing as a result of separation as well as other benefits like PF (Provident Fund), Gratuity (If applicable) etc.

The HR manager is needed at all steps of this process and in the final exit interview that is conducted to assess the reasons for the employee leaving the company and taking the employee’s views on work and the company in general as well as any “de-motivating” factors that might have caused the employee to resign.


In recent years, with the high levels of attrition in the service sector, it has become imperative for firms to have a structured separation plan for orderly exits of employees. Of course, the concept of “pink slips” or involuntary exits are another matter altogether and involve some bitterness that results because of the employee losing his or her job.

In conclusion, it is our view that employee separations must be handled in a professional and mature manner and though attrition is a fact that concerns everyone in the industry, once an employee decides to leave, the separation must be as smooth as possible.

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Human Resource Management