Termination of Employment: Rights, Types, and Legal Considerations

leaving workplace, resign from work, termination of employement

In this article we will explore the different types of termination, legal requirements for termination, a notice of termination, employee rights to appeal, medical termination of employment, and severance pay.

What is termination of employment?

Termination of employment refers to the departure of an employee from a job and the subsequent ending of their employment contract. This can happen voluntarily by the employee (resignation) or involuntarily by the employer (dismissal).

What is the minimum notice period for termination of employment?

While both the UK and US have a "notice period" concept for employment termination, they differ significantly in their legal frameworks. Here's a breakdown:

Notice period in the UK:

  • Statutory minimum notice period:
  • Employee: 1 week, regardless of service length.
  • Employer: Varies based on service length, ranging from 1 week to a maximum of 12 weeks.
  • Contractual notice period: The employment contract can specify a longer notice period for both parties, superseding the statutory minimum.

Important notes:

  • In some cases, collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) might influence notice periods.
  • Employers may have to provide a longer notice period for redundancy (job elimination).

Notice period in the US:

  • No federal statutory minimum notice period: Both employers and employees are generally subject to "at-will" employment, meaning they can terminate the employment relationship at any time, with or without notice, unless there's a specific contract in place.
  • Contractual notice period: Employment contracts can stipulate a notice period, but it's not mandatory.
  • Common practice: While not mandated by law, it's customary for employees to provide two weeks' notice as a professional courtesy.

Key Differences:

  • Statutory Requirements: UK has a statutory minimum notice period for both employers and employees, while the US follows an "at-will" employment framework with no legal mandates.
  • Enforceability: The statutory notice period is legally enforceable in the UK, whereas contractual notice periods hold weight in both countries.
  • Customary Practice: Two weeks' notice is standard practice in the US, but not legally required.

Remember, this information is for general understanding and may not apply to specific situations. It's recommended to consult relevant legal resources or employment law professionals for specific situations.

What are the types of termination?

Types of termination can be broadly classified into two categories: voluntary and involuntary.

Voluntary termination

According to Federal law, voluntary termination occurs when an employee leaves their employment, either by choice or through a mutual agreement with the company's human resources department.

Useful Read: Settlement Agreement: Navigating the Complexities in HR

Examples of voluntary termination include retirement, where an employee leaves their employment due to reaching a certain age or length of service, and resignation, where an employee decides to leave for personal or professional reasons.

Involuntary termination

On the other hand, involuntary or wrongful termination is initiated by the employer and occurs without the employee's consent. This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as

  • Poor performance
  • Violation of company policies
  • Or changes in the company's operations.

The two most common forms of involuntary termination are dismissal and redundancy.


Dismissal refers to the termination of employment due to an employee's conduct or performance. It occurs for reasons such as repeated violations of company policies, poor job performance, or misconduct.

In such cases, the employer must provide the employee with a valid reason for dismissal and follow the appropriate procedures outlined in government regulations and the employee's contract.


On the other hand, redundancy refers to employment termination due to company operations or restructuring changes. It can occur when a company downsizes, relocates, or automation of specific jobs. In cases of redundancy, the employer must provide a valid reason, give the terminated employee notice, and may be required to provide a final paycheck.

Useful Read: What is Statutory Redundancy Pay? A Guide for UK Employers

Resignation by an employee


Resignation by an employee is when an employee decides to leave voluntarily. It can happen for personal or professional reasons and is typically initiated by the employee through a letter of resignation or a verbal resignation.

The employee must usually give the employer notice before leaving, as outlined in their contract. Resignation does not require the employer to provide a legitimate reason for the termination, as the employee decided to go.

The employee might not receive unemployment benefits if they choose to resign.

The end of a fixed-term contract

The end of a fixed-term contract is a type of employment contract that refers to employment termination when the contract reaches its end date. This is considered a voluntary termination, as both the worker and employer have agreed to the terms and end date of the agreement.

The employee is not required to give notice, as the contract's end date serves as the notice period. Employers may choose to renew the contract or offer a new contract to the worker upon the end of the fixed-term contract.


Retirement refers to the termination of employment due to a worker reaching a certain age or length of service. This is considered a voluntary termination, as the employee chooses to leave their work due to reaching the age of retirement.

Company owners may offer retirement benefits to employees, such as a pension or health insurance, as outlined in the employee's contract or company policy.

Legal requirements for termination

Company owners must ensure that the termination process is lawful and fair for all parties involved. This includes providing notice of termination and the reason for dismissal, details of any entitlements such as an exit package, and the right to appeal. Failure to follow the legal requirements for termination can result in an unfair dismissal claim.

The legal requirements for termination vary across countries and states. In some jurisdictions, it is a requirement to provide written notice of termination before the employee leaves their job. An employer must understand the legal needs in their jurisdiction so that they can ensure compliance.

It is also essential for the human resource department to be aware of the laws surrounding wrongful termination, such as discrimination or retaliation. This includes providing a fair and unbiased worker review process and adhering to any employment agreements or contracts that have been established.

An employer should also have clear policies and procedures in place for termination, such as a progressive discipline policy and a transparent process for resolving conflicts and addressing unacceptable behavior. These policies should be outlined in an employee handbook and consistently applied to all employees.

Employers should also inform employees of their rights and benefits in the event of termination, such as unemployment insurance benefits and temporary financial assistance.

Eligibility requirements and other benefits should also be communicated. An employer must also ensure that they follow state laws regarding termination, such as laws surrounding involuntary termination and dismissing employees for specific requests or policy violations.

An employer should also be aware of their legal recourse in case of disputes with former employees and keep detailed records in each employee's employment file.

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Notice of termination

When it comes to terminating an employee's employment, HR is required to provide notice to the worker. While written notice is not necessarily needed, the information must be communicated to the worker clearly and effectively. The minimum notice period is typically outlined in the employee's contract and may vary depending on the termination and the employee's length of service.

Consequences of not giving full notice

Company owners must provide the employee with the entire notice period outlined in their contract. Failure to do so can have consequences for the employer, including potential legal suits by the employee. Failure to provide notice can also negatively impact the employee's ability to find new employment and damage the employer's reputation.

Employers need to understand their responsibilities when it comes to noticing termination. This includes providing clear and effective communication to the employee, providing the full notice period as outlined in the contract, and understanding the potential consequences of not giving full notice.

Medical termination of employment

When it comes to medical dismissal of employment, employers need to understand that they must have a valid, justifiable reason for terminating an employee's work due to medical reasons.

For example, if an employee cannot perform their job duties due to a medical condition, and there are no reasonable accommodations that can enable the employee to continue working, then dismissal may be considered. However, employers must be mindful of the employee's rights under employment law related to discrimination, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Employers must also ensure that they follow proper procedures when terminating an employee due to medical reasons.

This includes providing the employee with notice, an opportunity to appeal the decision, and supporting the employee during the transition. Employers should also consider offering alternatives to dismissal, such as accommodations or a modified work schedule, as this can be a more favorable outcome for the employee.

Finally, employers need to provide support to employees during this process. This may include offering outplacement services or providing detailed information about unemployment benefits such as disability insurance.

It's important to remember that termination of employment is a serious matter, and it is not an easy decision. Employers should consider all possible options and take all necessary steps to ensure that the employee's rights are protected and that the termination is handled fairly and respectfully.

Severance pay

settlement agreement

Severance pay is a financial benefit an employer may offer employees upon employment termination. It is a form of compensation intended to provide financial support to employees as they transition to a new job or retire. The employee's contract or company policy typically outlines the payment amount and eligibility typically outlines the payment amount and eligibility.

Employers may choose to offer a severance package for various reasons, such as to help the employee during the transition period, to acknowledge the employee's service to the company, or avoid potential legal action. The amount of discharge pay offered may depend on the employee's length of service, job level, or other factors.

Employers need to understand their obligations regarding exit pay. Some countries have legal requirements regarding payment, such as providing a certain amount for each year of service. Employers should also ensure that the unemployment benefits are fair and consistent across all employees.

Employees should also be aware of their rights regarding pay and review their contract or company policy to understand what they are entitled to receive upon termination. They should also understand the terms of the pay and any conditions that may apply.


In conclusion, termination of employment is a complex process that involves various legal and employee rights considerations. Employers should also be aware of the legal requirements for termination and follow proper procedures to ensure a fair and lawful process for all parties involved.

This includes providing notice, allowing the employee to appeal the decision, and offering exit pay if applicable. Employers should also consider supporting the employee during the transition, especially when termination is due to medical reasons. Understanding the nuances of termination and following proper procedures can help to ensure a fair and lawful process for all parties involved.

Topic: Employment
Carin Vreede

Written by:

Carin Vreede

With years of experience in the HR field, Carin has a lot of experience with HR processes. As a content marketer, she translates this knowledge into engaging and informative content that helps companies optimize their HR processes and motivate and develop their employees.


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