Protect your practice when an employee leaves your office. While the circumstances surrounding the separation of employment vary from case to case, there are some universal steps you can consider to protect the confidentiality of your patients, respect the privacy and reputation of the employee who is leaving, and to protect the practice from unnecessary exposure.
Block access to the practice’s electronic systems. Always ensure online passwords and email access have been disabled for a departing employee. Consider forwarding the departing employee’s future email to another mailbox so that any patient concerns can be addressed by a counterpart. Eliminating the computer privileges of a departing employee helps prevent unauthorized access to patient and practice information.
Secure the physical building. Require the employee to return any keys, locks, keycards, or access passes. These items are the property of the practice and should be returned.
Be prepared to provide all earnings required by law and allow the employee reasonable access to obtain his or her personal belongings. You should allow the employee monitored access to remove all of their belongings. Additionally, if possible, be ready to pay any money that the employee is owed by the practice at the time of departure. This minimizes the need for an ex-employee to return to the premises and helps to avoid future disputes. You may wish to consult an attorney to understand your obligation to provide unemployment compensation, payment for unused sick and vacation time, and your COBRA obligations.
Discuss the separation of employment in private. Remove the temptation for an emotionally charged event by limiting your discussion to facts. Of course, proper documentation of any misconduct, discipline, and the reason for separation can be helpful to have in the employee’s personnel file. This type of record helps to protect the practice in the future from claims of wrongful or retaliatory discharge and can be utilized if it becomes necessary to contest an unemployment compensation claim.
Employee separations are inevitable. With some foresight, these situations can be handled with a minimum of disruption to your practice. Consider the above pointers to help protect the patients, the practice, and the employee when a staff member quits or is fired.
Would you like the information on this web page in a printable form? If so, click here to view the When an Employee Leaves The Practice PDF document.