Q. It has always been our practice to issue separation notices only when we involuntarily discharge or lay off an employee, but our new plant manager believes we have to issue them even when an employee resigns voluntarily. What’s the rule?
A. Under Georgia law, employers must complete and deliver a separation notice, DOL-800 form, to all employees at the time of separation for whatever reason. The employer must provide the reason for the discharge, even if the employee has voluntarily resigned.
Provide the separation notice to the employee on the last day of work. If for some reason the employee is not present on the last day of employment, mail the notice to the employee’s last known address within three days of the last day of employment. Failure to provide this notice may adversely impact an employer’s opportunity to contest an employee’s claim for unemployment.
As an aside, the information set forth in the separation notice (or any other communication to the Georgia Department of Labor [GDOL] relating to an unemployment compensation claim) is privileged. It cannot form the basis of a defamation or other claim asserted by the employee under Georgia law. Be aware, however, that some federal courts have declined to extend such state-created privileges to federal claims based on an employer’s allegedly false or retaliatory communication to a state agency such as the GDOL.