Kansas Termination of Employment

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Absent an employment contract that provides otherwise, an employee of a social sector organization may ordinarily be terminated with or without cause provided there is no violation of applicable anti-discrimination laws. Prior to termination, social sector organizations should thoroughly review all records concerning the employee or employees in question and carefully assess the risks of litigation. Normally, advance notice of termination should be given. In most cases, an employment attorney should be consulted before terminating one or more employees.

All wages earned and unpaid at the time of discharge are due and payable upon the termination of employment and must be paid at the next regular pay date.  Employers should not deduct money owed to them by the employee from this last paycheck unless the deductions are authorized by law.  Should you intend to withhold anything out of the ordinary from a departing employee’s final paycheck, employment counsel should be consulted as these deductions typically violate the Kansas Wage Payment Act.

Severance Agreements / Releases
Generally, employers are not required to provide severance pay, unless they have agreed to do so. If the employer wants to offer severance to an employee, it may condition the benefit on a release, signed by the employee, in which the employee waives all legal claims against the employer. If an employer seeks a release, the employee must be provided severance or other consideration in addition to any payments the employee was already entitled to receive. Federal and state laws contain specific statutory requirements for waivers of age discrimination claims and prohibit the waiver of certain wage claims.

Unemployment Insurance / Compensation
Unemployment compensation provides benefits to those who are unemployed through no fault of their own. To be eligible for payments, an applicant generally (1) must have registered for work and continue to report at an employment office; (2) must have made a claim for benefits; (3) must be able to perform the duties of the claimant’s customary occupation and be available for work as demonstrated by the pursuit of employment; (4) must have been unemployed for a waiting period of one week; and (5) must have been paid total wages of not less than 30 times the claimant’s weekly benefit amount and have been paid wages in more than one quarter of the claimant’s base period.  Employers may seek to disqualify former employees from receiving unemployment benefits in cases in which the employee voluntarily quit or engaged in misconduct.  Employers should be aware that misconduct is a higher standard than just poor job performance.  Misconduct includes the use of or impairment caused by alcohol or nonprescription controlled substance; however, the employer must comply with certain restrictions regarding the testing for such use or impairment.

Additionally, individuals must perform no services in a given week and receive no remuneration to be considered “unemployed.” When individuals receive payments from their employers for periods in which they render no personal services (e.g., back pay awards, holiday and vacation pay, certain severance payments, or employer-funded disability pay), they are not “unemployed” and are not entitled to unemployment benefits.

Unemployment benefits come from taxes paid by employers based on  the wages they pay their workers. These taxes are put in a special trust fund that is used solely to pay unemployment benefits to workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. The benefits are intended to provide temporary assistance for people's basic needs while they seek new employment. 

Most employers pay contributions at a rate of 2.7 to 5.4% of their total payroll. The employer’s contribution rate depends on its individual benefit ratio (benefits charged to its account for a certain period divided by its total payroll for the same period) as well as the level of funding of the state's Unemployment Compensation Fund.

Health Care Continuation (COBRA) Requirements
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (“COBRA”) requires employers who provide employee health and medical benefits to offer a continuation of those benefits to employees who experience a “qualifying event,” such as a resignation or an involuntary termination of employment. COBRA applies to employers with more than 20 employees. See the Federal Laws Regarding Employment section for more information.

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