Help protect your office from potential liability by having a written termination procedure as part of your office policies and procedures.
Two facts of employment: people get hired and people get fired (or resign).
Few supervisors and managers savor the idea of being good at firing people. Nevertheless, you need to know how to terminate employees in a way that preserves their dignity while meeting your organization's needs. Even the most experienced managers will experience stress and anxiety when they go through the termination process. Having a clear idea of the process won’t make it any more pleasant, but could prevent you from making costly mistakes.
The key to a "successful termination" begins with hiring and continues throughout the employer/employee relationship. Performance Reviews also play a critical role in a "successful termination". But the actual process of termination is what stays in everyone’s mind the longest time. Remember that a termination impacts everyone.
Outline of the Termination Process
- An employee’s manager or direct supervisor should call and conduct the termination meeting. Hold the meeting in a private location other than the employee’s normal work area to limit any embarrassment the employee may experience. Information to be covered in the meeting follows.
- Notify the employee how and why he or she is no longer working at the company. Tell the truth, such as facts about an employee’s poor performance, regardless of how uncomfortable it is. However, never make remarks about an employee’s personal character.
- Inform the employee that the decision is final and when the termination will be effective. (For example, immediately as is common with termination for poor performance or at sometime in the future as is common with a layoff due to reduction in workforce.)
- Let the employee know what benefits (unemployment, health insurance, severance pay, etc.) are available. State laws typically govern how and when final pay and vacation pay is handled.
- Give the employee a written termination notice. Send a written termination notice—by certified mail—to an employee that is being terminated because he or she has failed to come to work as required.
- If you are concerned that an employee may become violent or take legal action, you might consider preparing a statement explaining the termination and read it verbatim to the employee.
- Consider offering assistance to the employee for finding another job. You might offer company assistance in preparing and mailing resumes, making copies or job search coaching tips.
Following the termination meeting, document it with a written, detailed description of the meeting. Include what the employee was told and what the employee said in the notes.
How to Fire an Employee Checklist
- Decide exactly, and succinctly, why you want to fire the employee.
- Compare your reasons for wanting to fire the employee with the job descriptions for that employee’s position. Does at least one of your reasons include that the employee is actually not doing the job properly?
- If you have specific procedures for termination of an employee, follow those procedures.
- If the employee is working pursuant to a contract, you must comply with the terms of the contract having to do with termination; otherwise you may be in breach of contract.
- Be sure to tell employees why they are being fired and give them these reasons in writing. (This can be mailed to them later if more convenient.)
- After you tell employees why they are being fired, allow them to tell you any defenses or other responses they have to your reasons for termination. IT just may be that you are making a terrible mistake, or the employee may confirm your decision to fire them
- Make sure employees’ files include a copy of the written reasons you gave the employees for their firing. Also, make a note in the file of any comments or defenses employees made in response to being fired.
- Be sure all wages, benefits, property, or other things belonging to the employee, or to which the employee is entitled, are given to the employee.
- At all stages of the termination process, from deciding to do so until the employee files is closed for good, treat the employee with common respect and courtesy.
- Never, ever do anything to humiliate the employee. Simply being fired is humiliation enough for an employee.
- Firing an employee is not a pleasant thing. However, being sure of your decision, following proper procedures, and keeping objective records of the decision and the event can put you in the best position possible in case the employee later makes accusations against you, or even if they sue you.
Final Mental Checklist:
- Plan what you are going to say
- Be calm
- Be humane
- Avoid surprises
- Have a strong paper trail
- Write a letter of termination to the employee
- Change the employee’s computer password and eliminate all of their IT access (don't forget email group lists)
- During the termination meeting, make notes of what was said and exchanged