Types of Separation from Employment

List of Types of Termination and Other Work Separations

Image Copyright Getty Images Jamie Grill

There are many different ways that you might be separated from your employer. Employment separation occurs when the employment contract or at-will agreement between an employee and his or her company comes to an end. Some separations will be forced by an employer, including getting fired or laid-off. Other separations, like retirement or resignation, will be voluntary.

Here are some of the common types of separation from work which you might encounter over your career.

Types of Termination and Other Work Separations

Dismissal From Employment

Constructive Discharge
Constructive dismissal, also known as constructive termination or constructive discharge, occurs when an employee quits under duress and believes that they have no choice but to leave their employer. Often they feel that they have been forced to leave by an employer who has intentionally made their working conditions intolerable. If employees who are separated in this manner can prove their case, they may retain some of the same rights as a discharged worker. Although it appears as if the employee left voluntarily, he or she had no other option but to leave due to the very difficult working conditions. If the employer’s actions are illegal or unlawful, the employee may have a viable claim for wrongful dismissal.

Fired
A firing takes place when an employer severs ties with a worker due to poor performance or violations of company policy.

Depending on the nature of employment, an employer may work with the employee in order resolve the problematic situation or provide a probation plan as a warning. In some cases, such as at-will employment, an employee can be fired without a reason or without warning. 

Lay-Off

Laid Off
Being laid off refers to a separation in which the employer has let an employee go because their services are no longer needed.

Layoffs occur when employers experience a reduced volume of business or funding, or when a reorganization occurs which renders a job unnecessary. Layoffs usually occur due to economic changes, financial decisions, restructuring, redundancy, attrition, or a change in function. Layoffs can happen to one or many employees at once, depending on the circumstances.

Types of Resignation

Resignation
A resignation occurs when an employee decides to leave a job of their own accord. Submitting your resignation is an official notice that you are ending the relationship between yourself and the company. Resignation etiquette varies by organization and job type, but typically, written notice at least two to four weeks in advance of your official last day is commonplace.

Forced Resignation
A forced resignation means that an employer has offered an employee an ultimatum - either resign or be fired. This sometimes falls under the “constructive dismissal” umbrella.

Types of Termination

Termination for Cause
When an employee is terminated for cause, they are fired from their job for a specific reason. Reasons can include any sort of misconduct, such as ethics violations, failure to follow company rules, breach of contract, theft, falsifying documents, violence, harassment or threatening behavior towards others, insubordination, etc.

Involuntary Termination
An involuntary termination takes place when an employer either fires or layoffs an employee.

Voluntary Termination
A voluntary termination occurs when an employee resigns or retires of their own will.

Termination Without Prejudice
A termination without prejudice means an employee has been let go for reasons other than performance, behavior or attitude on the job as in a layoff. Employees terminated without prejudice are eligible for rehire into the same or similar job role.

Termination With Prejudice
Termination with prejudice indicates that an employee has been fired due to inadequate performance, poor attitude or ethical/legal transgressions.

Employees terminated with prejudice would be ineligible for rehire.

Termination By Mutual Agreement
Termination by mutual agreement covers situations where both the employer and employee consent to a separation. Examples include contract employees at the end of their agreement, retirement and forced resignation. Mutual agreement does not necessarily mean that both parties are happy with the arrangement. It just means that they have formally agreed to stipulations for a separation.

Wrongful Termination
Wrongful termination happens when an employee is discharged from employment for illegal reasons or if company policy is violated when the employee is fired. Discrimination, complaining about workplace issues, and being unwilling to commit an illegal act on behalf of the employee are other common examples.

Types of Retirement

Retirement
Retirement is a separation form employment whereby an employee opts to cease working once they have met the age and tenure stipulations laid out by the employer or negotiated by the employer and a union. Many people consider part-time work after they have retired.

Mandatory Retirement
Mandatory retirement rules are limited to a few occupations where workers are deemed a risk to the public or themselves as they experience diminished capacities after a specified age. Examples include air traffic controllers, law enforcement officers, and pilots.

Phased Retirement
Phased retirement occurs when older employees are allowed to steadily reduce their work hours over time, often months in advance of their official retirement date.

Temporary Job or Employment Contract Ends
Once an employment contract is completed, or a temporary job ends, there will be a separation unless the employment is extended further.

Have a Question?

Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions about termination from employment, including reasons for getting fired, employee rights when you have been terminated, collecting unemployment, wrongful termination, saying goodbye to co-workers and more.

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