79

When an employee is fired, there are reasonable reasons to immediately escort them out of the office without working a notice period. Most firings happen somewhat unexpectedly, which means you likely have made the ex-employee angry and allowing them to continue to work allows them to take revenge.

However, if an employee chooses to quit it seems this doesn't apply. If that employee wanted to be vengeful they had the entire time immediately prior to quitting to do so.

Yet, it seems pretty common even when an employee resigns to get the same treatment. I understand that negativity is not beneficial to a team, but it seems like the benefits of an actual knowledge transfer should outweigh this.

Why would a company do this to someone who voluntarily resigns, rather than work with the employee to transfer knowledge?

Assume the employment contract says nothing about a mandated period and something like two weeks, so short enough a replacement could not be found.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Jane S Sep 16 '16 at 2:48
  • enderland, I know I suggested this retitle but now I'm wondering if it's too limited. The people who are actually physically escorted out of the building are probably only a small subset of those who are asked not to work out their notice period. – Lilienthal Sep 16 '16 at 7:24
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    Is that an american thing? Never even heard of it happening here in the UK. I always work my notice period, even as a contractor if my contract is not being renewed I still work for the rest of the current contract no differently from before. – Tim B Sep 16 '16 at 8:20
  • I think that none of the answers provide an answer to the OP's question: the OP clearly stated that when the employee is fired he/she can get out immediately per protocol, but no one said why it happens on voluntary resignations – usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ Sep 16 '16 at 9:08
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    I think some managers are creeped out by a subordinate that they don't have leverage over. They try to get them out asap to help restore the illusion of control. – Mark Rogers Sep 17 '16 at 14:19

11 Answers 11

62

Someone who knows they are getting out is a liability. Depending on their function, they could:

  • Reduce Staff morale (for instance by talking about his new awesome job is or why he quit)
  • Poach Customers (access to mailing lists and company mail contacts, possibility to send mail from company accounts)
  • Sabotage the Business (if the employee is in IT)
  • Not be very effective (Many people half-ass everything when they know they'll be gone in 2 weeks)

Yes, they could have done all of this before they give notice, but the employer didn't know about their desire to leave by then. Employers like to cut liabilities when they arise, and that its been a liability before usually doesn't preclude them from considering it one still.

It also may be possible that the resignation is a deal the employee struck with management, in order to avoid being terminated for cause. In these cases, all the usual reasons apply.

Because of these reasons, unless you trust the employee not to do that, and unless you really need them to train their replacement, its usually better to let them go home immediately (the nicer companies still pay the 2 weeks leave. When I resigned from my first Job, I did so with 2 months notice, as per contract. They didn't have me come in again, but paid out the 2 months still)

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Jane S Sep 16 '16 at 2:48
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    "Someone who knows they are getting out is a liability." - This doesn't explain the apparant regional differences in the observed behaviour. In some countries, escorting out the resignee is seen as the norm, in others it isn't. Why the difference? – marcelm Sep 16 '16 at 13:18
  • @marcelm I'm not an expert analyst, but I would guess its largely cultural, like so many things that are and seem to make no / very little sense. – Magisch Sep 16 '16 at 13:21
  • The question was about person who resigned, not who was fired, therefore all your cons do not apply, as it all could have been done before handling the letter of resignation. – Agent_L Sep 16 '16 at 14:33
42

It makes other employees scared to resign and shows that company doesn't trust their morality.

It is also a bad idea, culturally.

Coming from Europe I'd say that you can do this differently, we do this differently, and all the terrible risks and obvious reasons enumerated in existing answers don't apply. This is because they only exist in your brains and not your world. They are errors in your judgement.

A company in financial sector.

Some employees of IT dept resigned trough the history, who could technically: steal credit card numbers, introduce back doors, install subtle bombs that would fire in future.

And who could with just a little bit of thinking devise how to do it anonymously (I said it already: IT).

They worked 3 full months after resignation.

They didn't particularly like to work these 3 months and stated it plainly, but they were legally obliged to do so.

They didn't even like the company.

The company could have legally walked them out on day 0, but the decision was to keep them.

The bad stuff never happened.

And they fixed some stuff during the time, cleaned some of 'their' mess, did some knowledge transfer.

It was more than one occasion.

Go figure. Employees actually have some morality. They don't go around harming others just because they see no immediate penalty.

I think that after 3 months if they found on a sidewalk a wallet of their CEO, they would return it.

Their managers trust in that morality. And the upper manager knows that they can trust the lower manager's judgement. The owners know they can trust the upper management. A magical chain of trust.

It's bad

I believe that other answers, maybe because of the immersion, didn't see what is obvious to me. If you (a person) hire yourself a janitor, and interact with him for years, and as he says he would like to resign the next minute you send guards to escort him? Really...? Because your stuff is so precious? Unacceptable risk, huge liability? A minute before it was acceptable, now it's not? Nevermind how long is the list of your stated reasons and justifications, the action brings a clear message about the employer. It shows how employer treats others, how much trust they have with morality, what you could expect of employer's own morality.

(Update)

Cause

If you see a company that experiences this, and want to find the cause you ask a simple question: "what needs to change before this company can keep employees after resignation?" If you address all the stated reasons one by one, and somehow magically exclude them all (the risk that an employee would reduce staff morale, poach customers, sabotage, etc) I won't expect the situation to change. I expect they would still have been escorted out and I expect the enumeration of reasons would get new entries. So these are not actual cause: they don't influence reality.

If you re-create the trust in human morality, I expect things to change. This is because you nailed the true cause, not just a stated reason.

Now, how it is repaired, is there a recipe to change a mistrusting company, I honestly don't know.

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    How does this even answer the question? This practice happens and the question is why it happens. If you disagree with the reasons why this happens, then offer an alternative explanation. Don't just offer your opinion on why it is a bad practice. – Eric Sep 15 '16 at 13:04
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    @Eric The first sentence says why. The rather long example is not meant to evangelize, but to show evidence why I think other stated reasons are only stated to justify ourselves but are in fact not a true cause of the practice. Perhaps I should have clarified it better in my answer. – kubanczyk Sep 15 '16 at 13:49
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    This is a long, rambling anecdotal experience and doesn't even attempt to answer my actual question. I don't care about your personal opinions about how things should be, I care about why things actually are. – enderland Sep 15 '16 at 22:26
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    This is not exclusive to Europe. I've resigned more than once and have worked for weeks without issue. I've been laid off and given weeks to months notice of the lay off and worked without issue. It really depends on the company (more specifically the paranoia of the direct managers in question). – Walter Sep 16 '16 at 4:52
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    @enderland: The point is that, in many countries, it is absolutely normal to work your notice period, and absolutely unheard of to be escorted out of the building by security after having resigned. kubanczyk is not engaging in wishful thinking, he describes the reality many of us live in. – meriton Sep 16 '16 at 12:25
18

Reason that you may be escorted from the building instead of being allowed to work for your notice period - "The Boss just wants you gone due to anger or arrogance"

I had it happen to me once because putting in my notice made my boss angry. I put in my two week notice, got screamed at by the boss for "F'ing him and messing up his plans" and told to get out. Might not be common but it does happen.

  • This does not really answer the question. If you have a different question, you can ask it by clicking Ask Question. You can also add a bounty to draw more attention to this question. - From Review – The Wandering Dev Manager Sep 14 '16 at 19:03
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    @TheWanderingDevManager How does it not answer the question "why would a resigning employee be told to leave immediately and not serve out the notice period"? – Yakk Sep 14 '16 at 19:28
  • What exactly is your answer to "why would a resigning employee be told to leave immediately and not serve out the notice period?" You're only telling the tale of what happened to you, there is no answer, which caused the automated comment when I worked through the review queue. – The Wandering Dev Manager Sep 14 '16 at 20:29
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    Made a clearer statement of answer. Let me know if its better. @TheWanderingDevManager – JasonJ Sep 14 '16 at 20:40
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    There is obviously not one answer because there are many different reasons. The one in this answer is one of the possible correct answers. . – gnasher729 Sep 16 '16 at 8:00
8

I have heard of this in situations involving security clearance or leaving to work for companies considered competitors. In these cases, it seems like a defensive measure similar to when firing an employee. The employer has less trust that the employee will not breach agreements, cause harm, etc, even if this is inadvertent, so chooses to limit liability.

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    This is an unsatisfying answer because any prudent employee would secure a job offer before giving notice, and already knows (s)he is leaving to work for a competitor before giving notice. If the employee wishes to cause trouble, there is no reason to do so after giving notice. – March Ho Sep 14 '16 at 14:26
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    @MarchHo Consider it from the perspective of the employer. Before you give notice, they have no idea what your plans are. However, after notice, they definitely know that you will be leaving. What is their liability if you then cause damage to them or their customers after they knew you were a potential risk? – Eric Sep 14 '16 at 14:28
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    I think it would be safer to not employ people. – user37746 Sep 14 '16 at 17:44
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    @MarchHo - perhaps, but from the employer's point of view it's a reduction of risk rather than prevention - the less time you have to do the bad stuff, the better. – colmde Sep 16 '16 at 7:19
  • Well, that's why we tell people here to (at least in the USA) give the least possible notice. – gnasher729 Sep 16 '16 at 8:02
5

Some companies have internal policies for this, mostly due to Security (Physical, Information, Network, etc) reasons.

In the military/government contracting world, especially when read-on to sensitive/special programs or dealing with anything classified/confidential you are immediately removed as per protocol. That person is not allowed to handle that information/equipment anymore, and you do not want to risk spillage or aggregation.

In the IT world it may be because the person had access to sensitive data like password lists, admin rights, access to DBs, servers, etc. As an extension of that other industries with PII/PHI like insurance, healthcare, financial/banking need to safeguard that information and a person resigning no longer has a "need-to-know"

Other elements to consider are not wanting a person to become disruptive, take a baseball bat to a glass-paned office, prance around naked, or some other jubilant self-indulging "I got fired/I got a better job" behavior (I have witnessed all of that, the PMC world is super strange)

Typically being escorted out isn't something against the person, it is just protocol. Every time I have resigned a job to go work somewhere else I was always escorted of the premises, had my belongings searched for sensitive information/equipment (paperwork, thumb drives, CDs, etc) and had to turn in my security badge and sign applicable NDAs.

There are situations where personal emotions may fuel the need to have someone being escorted - either the person resigning or the person in charge of them but that is highly variable.

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    That's so weird. You knew you were resigning before they did, so if you were going to take sensitive information or equipment, wouldn't you just do it beforehand? – Amy Blankenship Sep 14 '16 at 15:30
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    That does happen, however there is a certain amount of trust given to people with active security clearances read-on to SAPs, etc. The escorting is more due to the fact that once your Resign/Quit/Get Fired from a project you no longer "have need to know" so any presence/involvement beyond that point is breaking the law. DODM 5200.01, Vol 3 goes into it a lot more than the comment box will let me – VaeInimicus Sep 14 '16 at 15:35
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    "You're only making it worse for yourself!" "How can it possibly be worse? I am going to be stoned to death!" (from The Life of Brian) – user37746 Sep 14 '16 at 17:35
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    Something to keep in mind the next time you resign is that you are under absolutely no obligation whatsoever to sign anything they hand you. What are they going to do? Fire you if you don't? Withholding your pay would be illegal. When I left Microsoft they asked me to sign a form saying that I remembered that I was under NDA; I certainly did not sign it! There was no incentive for me to do so. – Eric Lippert Sep 14 '16 at 20:50
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    Eric, I was read on to several TS/SAP projects - refusing to sign would lead to my clerance being suspended at a very minimum with possible jail time beyond that if they want to push it – VaeInimicus Sep 14 '16 at 20:52
1

Some more possible reasons:

  1. Because when a person resigns, suddenly their manager and possibly coworkers have to make plans to handle the person's workload, hire a replacement, etc. Having the departing employee around is just distracting and not necessarily helpful.

  2. Because the departing employee may want to start socializing, making the rounds, saying goodbye... again distracting people and wasting company time. Organize a goodbye meet at a bar instead?

  3. Because security/liability -- can you imagine the uproar, "Oh, sorry everyone, that password leak was done accidentally by an employee who just resigned the day before." Substitute "flooded basement", "failed firmware upgrade to 1M phones", "wing falling off a plane", etc.

  4. Because sometimes "resignations" aren't all that voluntary.

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    You'd think that it's actually EASIER to make plans on how to replace someone when you can ask them to help you out by listing all their responsibilities and sharing all their collected knowledge. – Erik Sep 14 '16 at 18:48
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    @Erik: depends on the organisation. Some places have a lot of people where the only person who can list their responsibilities is them. In some places, their boss could do that. In really advanced workplaces it's written down, but we all know that's a pipe dream ;-) – Steve Jessop Sep 15 '16 at 8:37
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    @SteveJessop If the boss or the documentation is a BETTER way to figure out responsibilities than just asking the person who had them, I'd expect that person to have been fired a long time ago. I'm sure you can "make do" by checking with the boss or the docs, but if it helps to remove the colleague first, something weird is going on. – Erik Sep 15 '16 at 8:55
1

The manager who has just heard your resignation also only human. They may well be placed in a tricky situation by your quitting. Having a simple procedure in place saves them having to make a judgement call at a stressful time for both of you, or trying to get a quick decision out of HR.

Like many policies, this is designed for the worst case -- a tiny minority of employees may pose some sort of risk, whether to morale or to systems, but the potential damage may be huge. Of course in other places, a rule like "those with access to...must leave immediately" may be applied.

It's perfectly possible to handle this like grownups, for it to be the manager who walks the employee to the door and shakes hands/offers best wishes. It may even be suitable to imply that the individual is going to take the rest of the day/week off and come back, to buy some time for a decision to be made.

1

Beyond the reasons already given it depends on where the employee is going for their new role.

If it is or could be that the employee is going to a competitor they'll be put on immediate "gardening leave". This takes them away from the office and any sensitive information that they might see or overhear that could be used by their new employer.

The gardening leave (sitting at home for your notice period) also gives some time for the employee to forget certain time-sensitive information, or for that information to become redundant.

I've had a couple of colleagues say they were going to a competitor, and they were escorted immediately from the building without time to collect their things. I also know one worker in another company who when they handed in their notice said they weren't going to say who they were going to who was similarly escorted from the building on the off-chance they were going to a competitor.

It's also very common for you to be ineligible to start your new job while on gardening leave - even though you aren't working, you may still be called in and you are still employed by company X while working your notice. It gives a little extra protection because if you start at company Y while on gardening leave you could be sued for breach of contract.

-1

The core reason is simple.

Security aside. Get the person out of there asap before they affect morale or anything disruptive happens. All of this is emotionally charged, best to get it over with and people can deal with other stuff professionally later. This is much preferable from many viewpoints, although perhaps not the persons immediate colleagues, but in many cases them as well.

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    "Anything disruptive happens" -- to me, if one of my coworkers quit, it would be far more disruptive to our team to not know what they were working on and be able to get that documentation from them about their previous efforts. – enderland Sep 14 '16 at 13:12
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    Yep, you and I both know that, but we're not HR, they're worried about disruptive to them – Kilisi Sep 14 '16 at 13:16
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    @enderland if someone is doing some work on a project and no-one knows what they are doing, I'd question the management as to how things got to that point. – gabe3886 Sep 14 '16 at 15:31
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    @gabe3886 - Usually people know what coworkers are doing, but not to the point that they could jump in with zero time lost. Usually the help of a departing coworker can lessen time lost, because it isn't efficient to work at all times as though the coworker was planning to give notice tomorrow. – psr Sep 14 '16 at 17:32
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    "All of this is emotionally charged" -- this may be a huge insight into the differences between the two prevalent styles. People quitting has very rarely been emotionally charged in companies I've worked for, and employees working their notice in fact do not become disruptive. Whether this is because employment law is different, or whether employment law is different because we're less emotional and disruptive about quitting, I wouldn't venture to guess :-) – Steve Jessop Sep 15 '16 at 8:45
-3

This particular act is a result of a mistrusting society. However, with this practice now becoming commonplace, the idea of giving a 2 weeks notice is also no longer expected. To do so would have you unemployed 2 weeks early!

You now have to just go along as planned and do not tell your employer until the last day. If you are asked why you didn't give them 2 weeks notice, tell them the trend is to be "walked out" when that is given, and you wanted to avoid that unpleasantry. You had a good employment and want to remember it that way ... and not to have that memory sullied by being "walked out" like a hardened criminal. They will understand.

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    This is a sure way to burn any good will you may have retained from your soon to be ex company and coworkers. But if you are ok with that go for it I suppose – JasonJ Sep 14 '16 at 15:39
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    Fair is fair ... if you cannot expect the same respect in turning in a 2 week resignation notice, as a courtesy, then why should you be expected to turn it in at all, if you're only to be escorted out like a criminal. I have no problems with this and am up front upon hiring when I ask ... If the time comes and I am moving to another company, will I be immediately escorted out if I give a 2 week notice? If the answer is "yes", then the 2 weeks notice is out-the-window. – Richard A. Allcorn - rAllcorn Sep 14 '16 at 16:17
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    When people are quietly escorted out, and the co-workers find out later, it instills a fear in the employees, for their own job security, making for a less than desirable working place. Try watching some "Simon Sinek" videos on YouTube. There are a LOT of not-so-wise business practices in our companies today that instill fear and undermine the overall performance of the working staff. Sneaking someone off in the quiet of the night because they turned in their notice is one of those 'not-so-wise' practices. – Richard A. Allcorn - rAllcorn Sep 14 '16 at 16:20
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    This answer is certainly not true in Australia, where employees are legally required to give 4 weeks notice. Employers are legally required to give 4 weeks notice before they stop paying an employee (they may or may not ask the employee to come in to work for those 4 weeks) – Scott Sep 15 '16 at 5:55
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    Its a tire old procedure that, due to being given "the boot" immediately when you give your employer 2 weeks notice, is no longer even appreciated. Oh they want the heads up, but where's the mutual consideration in keeping you on for the 2 weeks you gave them notice. Times are a changing. – Richard A. Allcorn - rAllcorn Sep 16 '16 at 2:13
-3

No matter how friendly the workplaces are for today's homo sapiens, at the end it's still a jungle you hunt for food. So yes, as soon as your agreement ends, you will be escorted by your boss or even by a guard from your desk to out. That's on the papers you've signed, remember? You may talk with people to lower their morale, or make an ugly scene. You may plan to send an email at the last minute about the true reason of you leaving. I saw it happened before. And there are people obligated to ensure that this will never happen. I am not trying to draw a dark portrait though. It's what it supposed to be. And it's still much better condition than a jungle.

  • 1
    This comment makes no sense. One, "jungles you hunt for food" are not known for bosses escorting people to out when they resign, so the comparison is strange. Second, I've never seen a contract that spelled out "when you resign, you will be immediately escorted to the door", nor does he mention that in his question. So "That's one the papers you've signed, remember?" is also dubious. – RemcoGerlich Sep 16 '16 at 11:29

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