In the realm of employment, precision in language is paramount. Every word holds significance, shaping the understanding between employers and employees. Whether it’s person-to-person communication or documentation for future reference, the accuracy of language is crucial in various employment scenarios, including re-hire decisions, unemployment claims, grievances, disciplinary actions, hearings, arbitrations, and lawsuits.

Below is a concise summary to common employment terms. It’s imperative to use the appropriate term to accurately reflect the action being taken.

Promotion – Signifies an upward movement in a job role, entailing increased responsibilities, greater authority, higher pay, or a combination of these factors.

Transfer – Denotes the employer’s decision to shift an employee from one position to another, typically within the same level or grade.

Demotion – Indicates a downward shift in job responsibilities, authority, or compensation, often imposed as a disciplinary measure or due to over-promotion beyond the employee’s capabilities. Demotion is most effective when the employee is understanding, cooperative, and will continue to perform satisfactorily in the position.

Probation – Refers to a specified period during which an employee is given a final opportunity to demonstrate satisfactory performance. Failure during this period often results in termination, while success leads to the restoration of the employee’s usual status. This is distinct from the initial probationary period of employment.

Suspension – Implies disciplinary action, serving as a precursor to termination if misconduct persists. Usually, it involves unpaid leave for a limited duration, typically not exceeding five working days, unless the misconduct is severe.

Separation from Employment – A neutral term indicating the end of the employment relationship, encompassing all reasons except layoff.

Termination – A neutral term signifying the end of employment, covering all causes except layoff.

Voluntary Quit or Resignation – Indicates the employee’s self-initiated decision to terminate employment, whether through verbal notification, written resignation, or similar means.

Job Abandonment – Occurs when an employee initiates termination by failing to report to work or by untimely communication regarding absence, effectively abandoning the job.

Layoff – Instructs the employee not to return to work until recalled, either for a specified or indefinite period. It should only be utilized if there’s a reasonable expectation of rehiring. Not used as a substitute for discharge.

Fired or Discharged – Refers to the employer’s unilateral action of removing an employee from the payroll. Can be done with or without cause.

Constructive Discharge – Describes an employer’s deliberate actions to create intolerable working conditions, compelling the employee to resign.

It’s essential to accurately label employment actions, as misrepresentation could lead to misunderstandings or legal complications. For instance, labeling a termination as a layoff when there’s no intent to rehire doesn’t change the nature of the action.

Navigating employment matters can be challenging, but NAE is here to support you. Members are encouraged to reach out for guidance on disciplinary actions and terminations. Our team of HR and legal professionals is dedicated to assisting you through these processes.