Separation Notice Requirements by State — Guide for 2024

Is it necessary to provide a notice to separated employees in the United States? 

What are federal separation notice requirements? 

Do some states have their own separation notice regulations? 

If you’re struggling with answers to these questions, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! As a US employer, you must be familiar with every relevant labor regulation in the country, and that also includes separation notice rules.

So, in this guide, we’ll explore:

  • United States employment separation notice regulations,
  • Separation notice requirements by state for 2024, and
  • Separation notice forms employers must provide to all separated employees.

*Note: The information regarding separation notice requirements laws and regulations by state has been checked and updated for 2024. 

What is a separation notice?

Separation refers to the termination of a working relationship between an employee and an employer. In general terms, a separation notice is a legal form stating the end of a working relationship between an employer and an employee.

In the US, separation notices are typically connected to unemployment insurance (UI) benefits. The UI program provides financial assistance to employees who are unemployed “through no fault of their own”. The exact rules for accessing insurance depend on the state. 

Certain states require employers to inform workers of the steps necessary for accessing those benefits or provide actual forms workers would need to fill in to receive UI. 

Depending on the state, information about unemployment insurance could be written on a poster displayed in the workplace. Alternatively, some states require employers to fill out and distribute separation forms to separated employees.

What are federal separation notice requirements?

The US law doesn’t contain any general legal requirements regarding separation notices. Thus, each state has the right to enforce its own separation notice requirements. 

However, there are 2 exceptions regarding separation notice requirements during employment separation:

  • Workers covered by the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN), and
  • Employees covered by the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986 (COBRA)

The WARN Act protects workers in the event of plant closings and mass layoffs. For these types of layoffs, employers are required to provide a notice of 60 calendar days

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986 (COBRA) covers private sector group health plans. According to the US Department of Labor, it applies to employers who had 20 employees that worked on more than “50% of its typical business days in the previous calendar year.” 

In essence, COBRA offers a continuation of health coverage and is available in the following events: 

  • Employee’s death,
  • Workers’ job loss or reduction in hours (excludes gross misconduct), 
  • A covered employee’s entitlement to Medicare, 
  • A worker’s divorce or legal separation, and
  • A child’s loss of dependent status (and coverage) under the plan. 

If a company’s COBRA plan administrator (a person responsible for ensuring that a business complies with COBRA law)  is a third party, employers must notify the administrator of the employee separation within 30 days. The plan administrator then has to notify the employee of their COBRA rights within 14 days. In case the employer is the plan administrator, they have 44 days to issue the COBRA election notice to the employee. 

Separation notice requirements by state 2024

Every state has the right to enforce its own separation requirements. 

Currently, 22 states have specific employment separation requirements for employers. Some compel employers to fill in separation forms, while others require employers to only inform workers of their right to unemployment coverage. 

The table below shows states with specific employee separation notice requirements as well as the exact rules and links to the forms employers must provide in the event of employment separation:  

State Separation notice requirementsQualified employeesSeparation notice or separation form
AlabamaUpon separation, employers are required to provide separating employees with a Notice of Availability of Unemployment Compensation and other unemployment benefits in the form of a letter, text message, email or a flier.  All separating employees.Notice of Availability of Unemployment Compensation 
AlaskaEmployers must provide separating employees with the employment benefits availability notice within 7 days after their last workday.  All separating employees.Notice to Employees
ArkansasEmployers are required to provide separating employees with a notice listing available unemployment benefits.All separating employees.Notice to Employee
ArizonaUpon separation, employers have to provide a printed statement with information about filing for unemployment benefits. All employees who become unemployed.UIB-1241A
CaliforniaEmployers must provide immediate written notice along with two pamphlets:
DE 2320 and DHCS-9061 (if covered).
All employees who are discharged, laid off, or on a leave of absence.Notice to employee as to change in relationship

(No written notice required in the event of a voluntary quit, promotion or demotion, change in work assignment or location, or if work stopped due to a trade dispute)
ColoradoEmployers must provide a notice to all separating employees with information on the availability of unemployment compensation benefits, in electronic or hard copy format.All separating employees.22-234
ConnecticutEmployers must distribute a separation notice to the employee or mail it to the last known address and inform the employee that they can submit a written statement disagreeing with the notice.All employees who become unemployed.UC-61
GeorgiaEmployers must complete and sign the separation notice and deliver or mail it to the employee’s last known address within 3 days. All employees who become unemployed.DOL-800 
IllinoisEmployers must provide a copy of the notice to a separated employee on their last day of work or send it to their last known address within 5 days.Workers laid off for 7 days or more or those who are separated from the payroll for any reason.CLI111L
IowaNotice is not required unless the employer wants to notify the Iowa Workforce Development of an employee who leaves employment for a reason that may disqualify them from receiving unemployment insurance benefits.Employees who leave or refuse employment.Notice of Separation or Refusal of Work

Regular separation notice (voluntary): 552-0772
LouisianaEmployers must file a separation notice within 3 days (online) which includes an explanation of the cause of separation and details of payments made to the employee.All employees who become unemployed.LWC-77
MarylandEmployers must display posters about unemployment benefits and health insurance coverage and provide separated employees with a notice of unemployment availability.All employees who become unemployed.Notification of the availability of unemployment insurance compensation
MassachusettsEmployers must provide the separation form in person or send it to the employee’s last known address within 30 days after the separation from employment.All employees separated from work.0590-A
MichiganEmployers must provide the separation form at the time of separation unless employers are filing claims on behalf of the employee.All employees whose employers are not filing claims on their behalf.UIA 1711
MissouriEmployers must provide the separation form.All employees who become unemployed.M-INF-288-5-AI
NevadaEmployers must provide unemployment claim information to employees atthe time of separation.All employees who become unemployed.DETR-ESD
New JerseyEmployers must provide separated employees with a separation form at the time of separation.

As of July 2023, employers also need to electronically report separation information to the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development immediately after the employee is separated. 
Employees separated from employment for at least 7 days.BC-10
New YorkEmployers must provide written termination notice to workers within 5 business days.

Employers must provide notice of the employee’s right to file an application for unemployment benefits at the time of separation.
Employees separated from employment for no more than 5 days.Form IA 12.3
PennsylvaniaEmployers must provide the completed separation form to separating employees and/or employees working reduced hours. All employees who become unemployed or work reduced hours.UC-1609
Rhode IslandEmployers must provide notice (flier, text, email, letter, or other communication) to separating employees of the availability of unemployment compensation at the time of the employee’s separation.All employees who become unemployed.Rhode Island Sample Notice (pg.2)
South CarolinaEmployers must provide employees with a Notice of the Availability of Unemployment Insurance Benefits in person, by mail, email, or text. All employees who become unemployed.Notice of the Availability of Unemployment Insurance Benefits
TennesseeEmployers must provide departing employees with a separation form within 1 day of separation (in person or electronically). All unemployed employees who have been employed for more than 7 days.LB-0489

FAQ about separation notice requirements

Have you ever wondered what are the most common reasons for employment separation? What about the steps an employer has to take when a worker departs? 

We’re answering the most common separation notice questions!

1. What are common reasons for separation?

Employment separation comes in many forms. The most popular reasons for separation are:

  • Resignation or job abandonment,
  • Policy or conduct violations,
  • Poor performance,
  • Health issues, and
  • Layoff.

2. How long does the process of separation last?

The process of employment separation depends on various factors, including:

  • Federal regulations,
  • State regulations, and
  • Employment contract.

Moreover, if an employee is required to put in two weeks’ notice, the process of separation is usually longer. 

In most cases, the separation includes:

  • Informing the HR department of the separation,
  • Informing the employee or employer (or supervisor) of the separation,
  • Providing the separation notice, if required,
  • Conducting an exit interview, and
  • Paying out any remaining wages to the employee.

The length of this process depends on the exact steps the state and the employment contract specify. In some states with compulsory separation notice, such as Massachusetts, employers may have up to 30 days to provide the notice. This extends the duration of the separation process. 

3. What should the employer do when an employee departs?

The employment separation process depends on various factors. 

But, in most cases, employers go through a few general steps when a worker departs. To make things a bit easier for you, here is an employer separation checklist

  • Inform HR about the worker’s resignation,
  • Provide a separation notice within the legal timeline, if required,
  • Make a plan for the transition,
  • Start the process of the employee’s replacement,
  • Conduct an exit interview with the separating employee, and
  • Remove access to any sensitive information and collect company assets from the employee.

🎓 Clockify Pro Tip

You can ensure that you follow every essential step in an employee separation process by creating a to-do list. Read the following text to find the best to-do list method for your needs:

4. Do I need a separation notice to file for unemployment insurance?

As separation notice is not required in most states, you likely won’t need to provide the notice when you file for unemployment insurance. As for the states with obligatory separation notice, the steps for receiving unemployment insurance depend on that state’s specific rules.  

Some employment separation notices only contain steps for filing the insurance claim. In that case, you likely won’t have to provide the notice upon submitting your request. In other states, employers are required to give you an exact insurance form that you have to submit when filing for insurance. 

You can read more about the steps you have to go through in each state on the US Department of Labor website. 

Separation notice requirements by state — conclusion and disclaimer

Hopefully, our separation notice guide for 2024 has helped you better understand the rules and regulations regarding employment separation in the United States. 

To get more data on labor law regulations for each state:

Please bear in mind that this article was updated and checked in Q1 of 2024. Thus, it may not include changes introduced after it was published. 

We strongly advise you to consult the appropriate institutions and/or certified representatives before acting on any legal matters.

Clockify is not responsible for any losses or risks incurred should this guide be used without legal guidance.

Remaining up to date with all the relevant regulations may be a time-consuming task, but if you leave keeping track of your time in the hands of a time management app such as Clockify, you may quickly find out where you can save an hour or two in the process. 

Sign up for Clockify for free today.

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