Voluntary termination is a decision made by the employee to leave the job. Such a decision is commonly known as "resignation," "quitting," "leaving," or "giving notice." Some common reasons for voluntary termination include:
Depending on the employee's reason, comfort with the employer, and dedication to the job, voluntary termination may be sudden and abrupt without warning to the employer, or with a certain amount of notice given. Generally, employers prefer that a departing employee provide at least some notice to the employer, often at least two weeks, this often called a Two weeks notice. Those in compliance with this requirement are more likely to be rehired by the same employer in the future, to receive their full benefits from the employer, and to get a better reference for future employers.
Involuntary termination is the employee's departure at the hands of the employer. There are two basic types of involuntary termination, known often as being "fired" and "laid off." To be fired, as opposed to being laid off, is generally thought of to be the employee's fault, and therefore is considered in most cases to be dishonorable and a sign of failure. Often, it may hinder the new job-seeker's chances of finding new employment, particularly if he/she has been fired from earlier jobs. Job-seekers sometimes do not mention jobs which they were fired from on their résumés; accordingly, unexplained gaps in employment, and refusal to contact previous employers are often regarded as red flags.
Dismissal is the employer's choice to let the employee leave, generally for a reason which is the fault of the employee. The most common colloquial term for dismissal in America is being fired whereas in Britain the term 'getting the sack' is used.
A less severe form of involuntary termination is often referred to as a layoff (also redundancy or being made redundant in British English). A layoff is usually not strictly related to personal performance, but instead due to economic cycles or the company's need to restructure itself, the firm itself is going out of business, or due to a change in the function of the employer (for example, a certain type of product or service is no longer offered by the company, and therefore jobs related to that product or service are no longer needed). One type of layoff is the aggressive layoff. In such a situation, the employee is laid off for a just cause, but not replaced as the job is eliminated.
In a postmodern risk economy, such as that of the United States, a large proportion of workers may be laid off at some time in their life, and often for reasons unrelated to performance or ethics. However, employment termination can also result from a probational period, in which both the employee and the employer reach an agreement that the employer is allowed to lay off the employee if the probational period is not satisfied.
Often, layoffs occur as a result of "downsizing", "reduction in force" or "redundancy". These are not technically classified as firings; laid-off employees jobs are terminated and not re-filled, because either the company wishes to reduce its size or operations, or otherwise lacks the economic stability to retain the position. In some cases, a laid-off employee may be offered a re-hire by his/her respective company, though by this time, s/he may have found a new job.
Some companies resort to attrition (voluntary redundancy in British English) as a means to reduce their workforce. Under such a plan, no employees are forced to leave their jobs. However, those who do depart voluntarily are not replaced. Additionally, employees are given the option to resign in exchange for a fixed amount of money, frequently a few years of their salary. Such plans have been carried out by the United States Federal Government under President Bill Clinton during the 1990s, and by the Ford Motor Company in 2005.
Some terminations occur as a result of mutual agreement between the employer and employee. When this happens, it is sometimes debatable if the termination was truly mutual. In many of these cases, it was originally the employer's wish for the employee to depart, but the employer offered the mutual termination agreement in order to soften the firing (as in a forced resignation). But there are also times when a termination date is agreed upon before the employment starts (as in an employment contract).
Some types of termination by mutual agreement include:
Firms that wish for an employee to exit of his or her own accord, but do not wish to pursue firing or forced resignation, may degrade the employee's working conditions, hoping that he or she will leave "voluntarily". The employee may be moved to a different geographical location, assigned to an undesirable shift, given too few hours if part time, demoted (or relegated to a menial task), or assigned to work in uncomfortable conditions. Other forms of manipulation may be used, such as being unfairly hostile to the employee, and punishing him or her for things that are deliberately overlooked with other employees.
Often, these tactics are done so that the employer won't have to fill out termination papers in jurisdictions without at-will employment. In addition, with a few exceptions, employees who voluntarily leave generally cannot collect unemployment.
Such tactics may amount to constructive dismissal, which is illegal in some jurisdictions.
Depending on the circumstances, one whose employment has been terminated may or may not be able to be rehired by the same employer.
If the decision to terminate was the employee's, the willingness of the employer to rehire is often contingent upon the relationship the employee had with the employer, the amount of notice given by the employee prior to departure, and the needs of the employer. In some cases, when an employee departed on good terms, s/he may be given special priority by the employer when seeking rehire.
An employee who was fired by an employer may in some cases be eligible for rehire by that same employer, although in some cases it is usually related to staffing issues.
An employee may be terminated without prejudice, meaning the fired employee may be rehired readily for the same or a similar job in the future. This is usually true in the case of layoff.
Conversely, a person can be terminated with prejudice, meaning an employer will not rehire the former employee to a similar job in the future. This can be for many reasons: incompetence, misconduct (such as dishonesty or "zero tolerance" violations), insubordination or "attitude" (personality clashes with peers or bosses).
Termination forms ("pink slips") routinely include a set of check boxes where a supervisor can indicate "with prejudice" or "without prejudice".
During the Vietnam War, the CIA used this terminology with regard to its locally hired operatives. In the case of severe misconduct, it is alleged that the CIA would assassinate them or "terminate with extreme prejudice". This phrase entered popular culture - often shorn of its original context - through its use in the movie Apocalypse Now.