“My new hire went to lunch on Day 2 and never came back.”
I’ve heard a version of this story from clients at least three times this month. The practice usually reaches out and either gets no reply or a short “sorry, I quit” text message.
They’re not “quiet quitting.” They’re “quick quitting.”
And the question from my client is always the same – What do I do now?”
Do I have to pay them?
First of all – tempting as it may be – don’t jump straight to the conclusion that they skipped out on the job so you can skip out on the payroll. Even if they were only there a few hours before bailing, you still owe them for that time (paid as a W-2 employee through payroll – don’t just cut them a check!).
If the new hire already filled out their I-9 and W-4, great, you can process payroll as usual. Make sure you’re following your state’s rules for final pay.
No W-4? No problem!
If the new hire left before providing you with a completed I-9 or W-4, reach out to them via email with the forms attached. Let them know that you’ve accepted their resignation (if they responded with an “I quit”) or that you’ve considered them to have abandoned the job (if they ignore your attempts to contact them and it’s been 3 days – or whatever period of time your handbook states your policy is for job abandonment). State that you’re obligated to pay for the time they spent working, but you need these forms completed prior to running payroll.
If they send them back, great, use that information and process payroll. If they completely ignore you and do not respond with their completed W-4, the IRS says this: “Employers are required to withhold income tax from wages as if the employee is single with zero allowances if they do not submit a Form W-4.” Process payroll accordingly (you may have to send a paper check to the address you have on file if they did not complete a direct deposit form).
One additional point on the payroll side – be cautious about deducting any amounts from their pay. Did they leave with uniforms or any practice property? You’ll likely have to pursue them legally for the return or value of the property. Even if your state is one that permits deductions without a signed consent from the employee, there’s typically a limit to what you can deduct that cannot take the employee below minimum wage for the hours worked. Check with your CPA, attorney, or HR advisor before withholding for any non-tax deductions.
Keep your practice secure.
Another issue you will want to address is security. Did you provide the new hire with an office key or security code? Access to any accounts? Make sure you take care to secure your practice property and accounts the day the employee leaves.
Lastly, from a practice culture standpoint this can be incredibly frustrating. You’ve invested your time (and probably a certain amount of money) in finding and hiring this person. You may have turned down equally qualified applicants when selecting this person. Your team was excited to have someone new to work with – someone who can help share the load and work together to avoid burnout from being so short staffed. I get it. It sucks.
Don’t react emotionally to this incident. I promise, it’s not you, it’s them.
Don’t feel you need to reach out with angry texts or emails to this person and “educate” them on why this was a bad choice.
Don’t let the actions of one person change the way you view your team.
Don’t let this negatively affect how you hire future team members.
DO continue to develop the amazing practice culture you’ve built
DO review the way you engage and onboard new team members to ensure your culture and the benefits of working for your practice is radiating from every step
DO let this go. There are no guarantees in hiring – or life – and sometimes people just suck. Holding on to bitterness and frustration won’t change what happened and won’t make anything better for you or your team.
If this has happened to you this year, I’m sorry. As always, I’m happy to discuss recruiting, hiring, onboarding, benefits, and culture with your practice leaders to help mitigate the risk of a “quick quitter” and make sure you protect your practice by staying compliant in these situations. It sucks, but you’ve got this!