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Termination of Employment Procedure

Section 100, Proc. 160
Related Policy: HR0160
Related Forms: IRIS Employee Termination, Authorization for Release of Final Paycheck
Effective: 2/21/08


To assure the university meets its responsibilities and complies with internal guidelines in making termination decisions, and to establish a procedure for the separation from employment of regular exempt and non-exempt university employees, whether employee or employer initiated. Nothing contained in either HR Policy or Procedure 0160 is intended to create legally enforceable contractual rights.

Who is affected:

Any regular exempt and non-exempt employee who has a separation from regular employment from the university.


1. Employment Status:

  1. Students: Procedures for the termination of a student employee are set forth in Hilltopics: A Student Handbook.
  2. Tenured and tenure-track faculty: Procedures for the termination of tenured and tenure-track faculty are described in the University of Tennessee, Knoxville Faculty Handbook.
  3. Exempt and non-exempt staff and non-tenure-track faculty: Individuals in these employment categories should follow the procedures outlined below.

2. Types of Termination:

  1. Resignation- The staff member indicates an intention to resign from his/her position, and submits a resignation letter. (A sample resignation letter follows this procedure.) Supervisors should acknowledge the resignation by signing the resignation letter.
  2. Discharge – When a non-probationary regular staff member is to be discharged, HR Policy 0525 (Disciplinary Actions) must be followed. The department must contact Human Resources-Employee Relations prior to discharging an employee. Involuntary termination requires the approval of the Executive Director of HR or his/her designee.
  3. Reduction in Force – When there is a reduction in force in accordance with HR Policy 0145, Human Resources-Employment will give assistance to affected employees for placement in other positions for which they qualify.
  4. Death – When an employee dies, the supervisor or department head will refer to HR Policy 0307 regarding Benefits in the Event of an Employee Death.
  5. Quit without Notice – A staff member who fails to give proper notice of resignation or leaves the job indicating an intention not to return to work has quit without notice. A staff member who is absent for three consecutive work days without notice is deemed to have quit. This action constitutes a resignation by the employee.
  6. Retirement – Employees planning to retire should contact the Office of Benefits and Retirement Services as early as possible for information and assistance in completing the necessary forms.

3. Required Forms for Separation from Employment

The employing department initiates the official documentation for terminations by completing the appropriate e-from on IRIS.  A list of termination codes is given in this procedure’s corresponding policy, HR 0160. The department must also take reasonable steps to inventory and remove (or request removal of) the terminating employee’s access privileges to university, departmental, school, and other information systems containing personal or proprietary data.

The employee must follow the procedure set out in HR Procedure 0125, Exit Interviews. This process will ensure that the employee’s identification card, keys, library books, debts owed, and other University property is returned to the university.

4. Benefit Continuation

The State of Tennessee complies with the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986 (COBRA) by extending to eligible staff and their eligible dependents the right to continue benefit coverage under the medical plans if coverage would be lost by reason of a qualifying event. Coverage is available for the period prescribed by law (18 or 36 months) at the individual’s expense including an administrative charge. Eligible staff includes those eligible to enroll in one or more of these plans when a qualifying event occurs. Eligible dependents are spouses and dependent children, i.e., children up to 19 years of age, or 23 years of age if a full time student. Qualifying events include voluntary or involuntary termination, other than for reasons of gross misconduct; voluntary or involuntary reduction of hours of work; death; divorce; a dependent child’s loss of dependent status; and an employee’s election of Medicare benefits as his or her primary coverage.

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