Every optometry practice will almost certainly have to deal with an employee resignation.
In some cases, the resignation will happen because the employee found a better job or no longer wants to work. These situations, though unfortunate, are usually relatively easy to manage. Unfortunately, sometimes, an employee may resign for more contentious reasons. Depending on the circumstances, this may come back to hurt you.
Your response to an employee's resignation is critical to preventing a costly lawsuit and ensuring that the employee leaves happy. Furthermore, there are situations in which an employee resignation can create a significant risk for your optometry practice. Here are three such examples.
3 Situations When a Resignation Might Put Your Optometry Practice at Risk
There may be times when you apply undue pressure to get an employee to resign or commit some other action that does the same. Combined with your response to an employee resignation, these actions may put your optometry practice at risk.
Situation 1: Intentionally driving an employee to resign
Creating a hostile atmosphere that causes an employee to leave is called a “constructive discharge.” A constructive discharge is when you force the employee to resign by taking various actions that make it impossible for the employee to continue working. Such a practice exposes you to major legal liability and may come back to haunt you in a wrongful termination suit.
There are many examples of this tactic, including cutting hours, demoting an employee, or changing their work location to an undesirable one.
You may have real reasons to want an employee to resign, but you need to address those underlying issues if that's the case. Trying to force an underperforming employee to leave your optometry practice is not how to handle these issues. Handling a situation like this is not a professional response to employee resignation and will create more problems. Such a tactic will make employees angrier, leading to a higher likelihood that they'll file a claim against
you. Instead, it is better to address the issues with the employee and create a process to evaluate their performance. Fortunately, HR for Health has such a system in place.
Furthermore, if there are performance issues, make sure to document them and retain such documentation if there are questions about an employee's ability or the reason for termination. At HR for Health, we offer cloud-based documentation. You can use this feature to store any documents related to an employee, including performance issues.
Situation 2: Taking employees off the schedule before their designated offboarding date
An employee must work until their designated offboarding date. Removing them from the optometry practice schedule beforehand will impact the type of separation from employment, as it turns the resignation into a termination. Such a move opens up wrongful termination claims and may make the employee eligible for unemployment. If you want to keep a resignation classified as such, you can do one of two things: Pay the employee through the last day and keep them on the schedule until the designated final day, or simply pay them out through their last day of work. Either of these can be done with little to no risk.
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Situation 3: Creating a hostile practice environment leading up to their offboarding date
Any hostile work environment claims should always be taken seriously and investigated according to the set procedures you have designated in your handbook. You need to document all conversations, allegations, and evidence either way, and you should make sure to retain such information. Furthermore, exit interviews can be helpful here, as they proactively allow your optometry practice the opportunity to give the employee the ability to voice concerns. You should document any of these issues and the steps you take to resolve them.
Thankfully, you can use our secure and easy-to-access cloud-based documentation to keep track of this information. We also have a “notes” section that is only visible to authorized users. If harassment or bullying has occurred, we have a violations feature in our portal. Furthermore, we offer separation documents that you can customize to your optometry practice. These documents can be used in the event of a separation or termination.
Reevaluate Your Resignation Process
Remember that your response to an employee's resignation is critical to avoiding a lawsuit. Therefore, you should make sure to have an employee exit interview. The exit interview allows the optometry practice to ask about things such as why the employee is leaving and what your practice can do better moving forward. As such, an exit interview can help ensure that you are making an effort to improve your business and create a better process. The interview can also show the employee that their opinion is valued, which can go a long way towards avoiding a lawsuit or claim against your optometry practice.
Keep in mind that designing such a process often requires professional help. At HR for Health, you have access to HR specialists that can help advise you on how to create an exit interview process. We can also provide you with templates that you can customize to fit your needs.
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What You Need to Know
You cannot drive someone to leave or create a process that encourages them to do so. Your response to an employee's resignation is critical to defending your optometry practice and ensuring you don't invite a lawsuit. By conducting this process in a mature, professional manner, you are protecting your technique and making sure that you protect all of your employees as well as your business.
How HR for Health Can Help
At HR for Health, we're here to help. We can give you access to all of the features and expertise your practice needs and help ensure that you know how to handle complicated HR situations.
Want to find out more about what HR for Health can do for your practice? Contact us today and set up a fifteen-minute, no-obligation call. Let us show you everything you can do to help your practice grow.