How to Terminate an Employee

There are many reasons why an employee may separate from the University. Termination of employment may be voluntary, involuntary or the result of a job elimination.

Please ensure that you are familiar with the University policy on Terminations, available in the Administrative Policy Library.

Types of Terminations


A resignation is a voluntary termination initiated by a faculty or staff member. For guidelines related to academic appointments, consult the Provost’s Office or the CUMC Office of Faculty Affairs. Support staff employees are expected to give two (2) weeks notice. Officers are expected to give thirty (30) calendar days notice. Upon completing the specified notice period, employees who resign receive vacation pay for earned, unused vacation days and floating holidays. Employees who do not provide such notice forfeit this pay, though supervisors may waive this requirement following consultation with the Office of Employee and Labor Relations. 

Involuntary Termination

To ensure that administrative and support staff are not subjected to arbitrary or discriminatory practices in the termination of their employment, all cases involving a layoff, release or discharge must be discussed with Employee and Labor Relations or CUMC HR prior to the department's notification to the employee. All such cases involving academic personnel must be discussed with the appropriate Dean and Provost. At the CUMC, call the Office of Faculty Affairs.

Release (Non-academic personnel only)

A release is a termination at the discretion of the University. A release, rather than a discharge, is used when a) the situation reveals that the employee was willing to work and was attempting to perform the job duties but was unable to perform satisfactorily and was not able to transfer to a lower job classification, or b) the employee's termination is determined by the Vice President for Human Resources, or his/her designee, to be in the best interest of the employee or the University. An employee who is released will receive vacation pay for earned, unused vacation days and floating holidays. 

Discharge (Non-academic personnel only)

A discharge is a termination initiated by the University for cause, including, but not limited to, insubordination, excessive absenteeism or lateness, falsification of records, illegal acts, violation of published Personnel Policy or repetition of behavior for which an oral or written warning was given. An employee who is discharged shall not be employed elsewhere within the University. An employee who is discharged will receive vacation pay for earned, unused vacation days and floating holidays.


Exit Interviews:

The Exit Interview Report should be completed by all terminating employees and their supervisors. One copy of this report is to be forwarded to HRIS with the eTerm transaction or attached to the  termination Personnel Action Form (PAF) no later than the day following the last day of employment.

MSS Online Termination (eTerm) for Administrative Employees:

E-Termination is a function within Manager Self-Service that allows managers to electronically submit a termination for administrative employees.
Below is a quick step by step guide on how to process an electronic termination in MSS.  For detailed information, visit the Training Catalog.

The MSS eTerm process also includes the ability to upload documents to the termination transaction.  For example, you may want to attach the resignation letter,the final timesheet, or the final officer time off tracking sheet.

Watch this 90 second video for a quick demonstration on how to use eTerm.

  1. Sign on to MSS – Terminations via myColumbia (new window)
  2. Access the Department employee list
  3. Enter the termination date and click the button
  4. Select employee record to be terminated
  5. Select the termination reason from the drop-down box
  6. Enter vacation and personal days:
  • For officers, enter whole and half days
  • For support staff, enter whole days and hours
  1. Attach documents (not required)
  2. Click the “submit” button
  3. A confirmation page appears to verify the transaction has been processed
  4. Check data on summary page and print if required

Hotlined Employee

Employees who have been hotlined or suspended will not appear in MSS. In such cases, you must use the PAF as detailed below.

Note:  Terminations that require consultation with HR Client Managers also need to be processed via PAF. In such cases, you must use the PAF as detailed below.

PAF Termination: for Academic Personnel

For academic terminations, a paper PAF and other paperwork is submitted to the Provost's office.

  1. Generate an Active PAF for the employee from the Employee Personal Information page in the Manager Self-Service section of the People @ Columbia system. For information on how to print PAFs, access the MSS training guide
  2. Enter the Action / Reason codes and effective date at the top of the PAF (see the chart below)
  3. In the appropriate sections of the PAF, draw / type a single line through information that needs to be changed and print / type the new information in the updated fields. Verify that the form is complete, sign it, attach the appropriate documentation and route it to the appropriate office for approval, along with the required supporting paperwork for the transaction

Reference the “How to Complete a PAF” job aid for information on field entry.

Termination Due to Death

The terminating department must send a copy of the termination PAF to the HR Benefits Service Center in addition to sending the original termination PAF to the HR Processing Center.  The electronic termination feature cannot be used.  See below for other types of terminations that can only be processed using a PAF.

Action / Reason Codes (Termination)

Below are the applicable action / reason codes for a termination.  Enter these on the top of the PAF form to indicate the purpose for the submission.  For electronic terminations, the reason is selected via a drop down list and PAC will convert that selection to the appropriate code.

MSS / PAFAction CodeReason CodeReason
MSS / PAFTERAPOResignation - Accepted Position Outside the University
MSS / PAFTEREDUResignation - Education/Return to School
MSS / PAFTERRLOResignation - Relocation
MSS / PAFTERROPResignation - Other Personal
MSS / PAFTERRLSReleased - Review with HR (Admin Only)
MSS / PAFTERDSCDischarged - Review with HR (Admin Only)
MSS / PAFTERAENAppointment Ended (primarily for Academic and Casuals)
PAFTERCNLHire/Cancel (Academic Use Only)
PAFTERRLNReleased not eligible for rehire
PAFTERRNRResigned not eligible for rehire
PAFTERFNDLapse of funding
HRPC ONLYTERDPRDuplicate record
HRPC ONLYTER560Non-Student Casuals Exceeded 560 Hours/4 Months Time Limit


For a complete listing of Action / Reason codes, click here.