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Managing Employee Separations

Termination of employment may be voluntary, involuntary or as a result of job elimination.

Voluntary Separation
Involuntary Separation
Job Elimination

Key Actions

Voluntary Separation

A voluntary separation is an employee-initiated resignation.


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Involuntary Separation

An involuntary separation is initiated by the University. Examples of reasons for involuntary terminations, other than job elimination, include but are not limited to:

  • Unsatisfactory job performance, failure to adequately perform assigned duties and/or work performance is below required standards
  • Engaging in conduct in the workplace that violates any federal, state or local law, ordinance or regulation
  • Violation of Columbia University policies
  • Conflict of interest
  • Excessive absenteeism or tardiness

For any involuntary separation, CUHR and the Office of the General Counsel must be consulted.

All cases of involuntary termination of employement involving staff covered by a collective bargaining unit must be reviewed and approved by the Office of Labor Relations.


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Job Elimination

Job elmination is a termination initiated by the University because the job or position is discontinued due to a lack of work, significant change of work/responsibilities, or a lack of funds. Severance may be available to Officers or Non-Union Support Staff as a result of a job elimination. See Separations in the HR Policy Manual for details.

All cases of involuntary termination of employment involving staff covered by a collective bargaining unit must be reviewed and approved by the Office of Labor Relations

Separations of Non-Union Support Staff and Officers of Administration are governed by the Separations Sections of the HR Policy Manual.


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Key Actions:
  • Review the Terminations of Employment policy
  • Notify your HR Client Manager of all staff separations
  • For all employee separations, complete all appropriate actions on the Employment Separation Checklist (Word)
  • In cases where the termination is not for cause, an exit interview may be conducted with the departing employee. Complete an Exit Interview Report (PDF/Word) .
  • Reconcile and determine any accrued and unused vacation or personal days before issuing final payment
  • Process employee termination as soon as possible after being notified or after separation has been communicated to the employee:
    • For resignations, discharges or releases, the online process may be used. Click here for details on the E-term process. Also see the Manager Self-Service Online Termination Training Presentation (PDF). 
    • For job eliminations (layoffs), retirement or death, a PAF is required. Click here for details on the manual PAF process.
  • Advise departing employees of their eligibility for certain entitlements offered under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) — see Benefits at Columbia – COBRA (only applicable for involuntary separations) and Managing Benefits: New COBRA Rules Under the Economic Stimulus Package


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