What is Termination of Employment?

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  • Written By: Tara Barnett
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 11 August 2019
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Termination of employment is the end of a period of association between an employer and an employee. There are many different ways in which termination of employment can occur and many different laws regulating why this type of association may end. When an employee chooses to leave an employer, it is typically called voluntary termination, while when the employee is forced out, he or she undergoes involuntary termination. Some employers force employees to resign so that the arrangement can be called voluntary termination and the employer can avoid paying unemployment or claim that no wrongdoing occurred.

In its most basic form, termination of employment is simply the end of a job for an employee. It can come about for any number of reasons, not all of which are bad. Usually, the conditions under which termination of employment occurred have an effect on how easy it will be for the employee to be hired in the future. When conditions are particularly bad, termination of employment can be the best option from the employee's perspective, even if the alternative is unemployment.


Voluntary termination of employment is usually thought of as resignation or quitting a job. Different cultures have different standards, but giving a certain period of notice prior to leaving a job is recommended in most cases. Sometimes, giving notice can even be required in order to receive certain benefits. Providing an explanation to employers about why voluntary termination is necessary can sometimes ensure that employers provide good references, particularly when the reason is sympathetic.

Involuntary termination is often complex and can occur immediately in some cases. When an employee is accused of misconduct of any kind, it can be grounds for termination. There are certain types of events that cannot legally be grounds for termination, but employers are often able to find other infractions for which to fire a person whom they no longer wish to employ. If an employee believes he has been wrongfully terminated, seeking help from a lawyer is absolutely essential.

When a business cannot afford to keep an employee, he or she is often said to have been laid off rather than terminated, even though a layoff is still a termination. Use of the term layoff allows future employers and other relevant parties to understand that the employee was not let go due to any personal fault. Being laid off can even cause some people to look kindly on a person who is out of work, as being laid off is generally seen as unfortunate. As with other types of termination, noting why and how someone was terminated can help obtain benefits while looking for new employment.



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