Two weeks has long been employees' go-to time frame for giving resignation notice, but it's still easy to feel put on the spot when your employee tells you she's calling it quits. As a manager, you have the option to accept an employee's notice and let her ride out the final two weeks of employment, but there may be special circumstances where you'd rather refuse. Refusing two week notices can be difficult, but it's necessary in some situations.
If an employee signed a contract to work for you for a certain amount of time and that time hasn't passed, you can refuse the two week notice. Simply tell her that the resignation violates the contract she signed and remind her of the contractual agreement. Inform the employee of any penalties that could result from not sticking to the bargain. For example, if you gave her a retention bonus for agreeing to stay at your company under contract, the company could litigate to get the money back.
Company Policy and Security
If the employee has been privy to sensitive information during her tenure, it's natural to worry that she'll spend the next two weeks copying down trade secrets or securing information to share with a competitor. As a result, you may choose to refuse her two week notice and tell her to pack her bags, hand over company property and leave immediately. In some instances, you might want to call in security to escort the employee as she gathers her things and exits the premises to ensure she doesn't take sensitive information with her. Review any confidentiality agreements she signed and remind her that she has agreed not to share proprietary information with competitors. You may even consider having her sign an additional affidavit before she leaves reaffirming her promise not to share information. Your company may even require that you do so, and if this is the case, cite the company policy while refusing her resignation notice.
In some instances, you may worry that an employee will slack off or fail to carry out her duties during the final two weeks. Maybe she's had a history of goofing off on the job, or maybe she just seemed disinterested or even confrontational when presenting her two week notice. In this case, it's best to tell her that you appreciate her taking the time to provide notice, but you think it would be in both of your best interest if your working relationship ended immediately. This will save you the stress of worrying about whether or not she's doing her job for the next few weeks, and will give you extra incentive to find a high-quality replacement as soon as possible.
Before employees leave, ask them to participate in an exit interview. Exit interviews are beneficial for you as an employer, as they provide insight into why employees are leaving and what their future plans entail. For example, you may learn that employees are disgruntled by lack of resources around the office, or that a worker is going to work for a competitor who offers higher pay. Exit interviews allow you to see where you could make adjustments in your own company to retain employees.
Tips and Considerations
Try to remain calm and professional while refusing notice. While it may be difficult, you don't want to create a negative reputation for yourself around the office. You also don't want to behave in a way that will cause the employee to bad mouth you or retaliate if she later goes on to work for a competitor. Be simple, direct and to the point. If at any point you're concerned that the employee may lash out when you turn down her notice, call for security or backup.