HR Checklist for Your Last Day of Work: Questions to ask

LAST REVIEWED Apr 05 2019 6 MIN READ

By Liz Sheffield

It’s your last day on the job. Depending on the situation, that may mean you’re celebrating; or, it may mean you’re not feeling too great. Regardless of whether it’s a good or bad situation, there are some important HR-related things you need to have in order before you walk out your employer’s door on your final day of work.

Sure, you need to say good-bye to co-workers, clear off your desk, remove any personal files from your computer, and return your office key. But before you spend time on those items, be sure that you’ve checked all the boxes related to things that will impact your finances and future.

Use this HR checklist to make sure you’ve taken care of the items that matter most in the long term:

Make plans for your health insurance coverage

Confirm the date when the health insurance coverage you receive from this employer will end. Once you have that date, compare it to the date that your new employer’s coverage will begin. If you don’t have a new job, and won’t be covered under your spouse or partner’s plan, you may need to set up COBRA health care coverage to ensure you don’t have a break in health care coverage.

COBRA health insurance coverage guarantees employees the right to keep their group health care coverage for up to 18 months when they would otherwise lose it after leaving their job. While employees are guaranteed the right to the health care coverage they received from their employer, employees are required to pay for all of it out of their own pocket. If your family members are covered under your insurance plan, COBRA coverage might also be available them.

Find out what other benefits you keep when you leave

If you leave your company, you may be able to continue life insurance coverage (if you have it) with the same insurance company. Check if the contract offers a “conversion privilege” to employees who were insured under the employer's group plan. It’s important to examine the conversion rates, as they may be more expensive than an individual policy you could buy on your own.

Even if you're not going to convert the life insurance plan ask your HR representative for how long your life insurance coverage extends beyond your last day of work. Get all the information you need about any other benefits you may have had through your employer, such as long-term disability or wellness-related benefits (e.g., gym membership, health coaching, etc.).

Roll over your 401(k)

When leaving an employer, it’s important to consider the choices you’ll need to make about your retirement investments. In most cases, you have four options regarding how to handle your 401(k) when you leave an employer:

  • Leave your 401(k) at your former company.

  • Transfer the 401(k) to your new company, if you have a new job lined up.

  • Rollover your 401(k) into an IRA or another eligible retirement account.

  • Withdraw the funds in your 401(k) – watch out for

There are financial advantages and disadvantages for each of these options. Just keep in mind: if you cash out your 401(k), you’ll not only reduce your retirement income, you’ll also face a 10% penalty (if you're younger than 59.5 years), and you'll have income tax payments on the amount you withdraw.

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Manage your vested stock options

When you leave an employer, don’t leave your stock option grants behind. Most companies’ stock plan rules allow for no more than 90 days to exercise any existing stock option grants. Before you leave, get that information from HR; be sure that you make time to handle your stock options accordingly.

Save your contacts, especially those related to above

When you’re working for a company, it’s easy to get in touch with people who can answer your questions about health insurance, life insurance, retirement investments, and stock options. But when you walk out the door you won’t have access to the company directory, or to your work email account. Be sure that you gather the contact information for anyone you might need to contact. And, if you have any online accounts linked to your work email (e.g., health insurance website, 401(k) plan, or even LinkedIn) be sure that you've updated that email address to your personal account so that you can log in and access any necessary account information.

It’s common for today’s workers to have many jobs during their career. Frequent movement from one employer to another makes it all the more important to use a checklist and make sure that you’re not leaving something valuable behind when you make the transition to a new employer.

Also, don't forget to check out this checklist for your next job!: HR Checklist for Your First Day of Work :)

Image credit: Jeshu John - DesignerPics

Liz Sheffield has more than a decade of experience working in HR. Her areas of expertise are in training and development, leadership development, ethics, and compliance.

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