How to Handle a Terminated Employee’s Email

One of the questions that I often see asked around the web is “what do you do with an employee’s email and email address once they leave the company?” This quick article will outline the process that I’ve been using for a while now, and that has always served me and my clients (and their clients) well.

TL;DR

Here is a basic overview of the process:

  1. Change the former employee’s password
  2. Choose who will handle any future emails addressed to the former employee
  3. Setup an autoresponder to reply to incoming emails
  4. Setup a filter to forward emails to the employee’s replacement
  5. Wait for a set amount of time (2 weeks to 1 month is usually enough)
  6. Backup and delete the former employee’s account



0. Change the Former Employee’s Password

Hopefully this goes without saying, but your absolute first step should be changing the former employee’s password.

1. Determine the Former Employee’s Replacement

If applicable, choose who will be responsible for handling any future emails that are sent to the former employee’s email address. In the steps below, we’ll make the introduction to this person, as well as forward them any emails the former employee receives.

2. Setup an Autoresponder

In most cases, the biggest challenge to overcome is making sure that any of the former employee’s contacts know that the former employee is no longer with the company, and more importantly who at the company they should contact in the future (the person you chose in step 1.)

To accomplish this, I find it easiest to create an autoresponder (or vacation responder in Gmail) for anyone that emails the former employee. I include a couple of lines similar to the following:

Thank you for contacting (company name). We regret to inform you that (former employee) is no longer employed here. Please direct any future correspondence to (person responsible) at (person responsible’s email and/or phone).

Best Regards

This is an automated reply. For your convenience, this email has been automatically forwarded to (person responsible).

3. Setup a Filter to Forward Emails

While you’re setting up the autoresponder, go ahead and create a new filter that will forward the incoming emails to whomever you chose as a replacement for the former employee.

4. Set a Reminder to Delete the Account

Pick a date in the near future when you think it’s safe to delete the former employee’s email account. The amount of time might vary based on the company, their industry, client base, etc., but I usually wait anywhere from two weeks to a month.

Set a reminder for yourself so you don’t forget.

5. Backup and Delete the Account

When your target date arrives make a backup of the former employee’s account, inbox, etc. if necessary (just do it. disk space is cheap, and having a backup when you need one is priceless!)

At this point, all of your bases should be covered and it should be safe for you to delete the former employee’s email account.

What’s Your Process?

What process do you use for handling a former employee’s email address? How might I improve the process I use? Leave a comment below and let me know.

3 responses to “How to Handle a Terminated Employee’s Email

  1. Thanks, this was very helpful. Adding #2 to my process as I would just have the emails forwarded to the replacement and he/she would then respond to the sender. I think the autoresponder will help spread the word out more efficiently.

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