Expert Tips for Firing an Employee

Posted on September 14, 2020 by Rick Rossignol

woman talking to man

As a business owner, chances are you’ll find yourself in the situation in which you need to fire an employee. It’s understandable that firing an employee can be an uncomfortable experience, not only for the employee being fired, but for the person informing that employee that they will be let go. Although it’s not something anyone looks forward to doing, there are a number of ways to go about firing an employee while remaining respectful:


Be Straightforward


When meeting with an employee to fire them (in a closed room and always with a witness), be straightforward at the very beginning that the purpose of the meeting is to let them go. After you have made that clear, allow them to ask any questions they might have, and answer them honestly and professionally. Provide information on their last paycheck, health insurance, and unemployment benefits.


Be Respectful


Remaining respectful is must, and by no means should you seek to humiliate an employee. You never know when you may meet again. Treating them with dignity reflects well on you and keeps your business in good standing. Firing an employee publicly or in a way that embarrasses them can cause a number of issues, especially those with your existing staff.


Have a Witness


When firing an employee, only you and a representative from your Human Resources department should be in the room. There is no need for anyone else, as an HR rep is a credible witness.


Having a witness is crucial. Not only does it keep the meeting on more neutral terms, it also becomes essential if the employee being fired decides to seek legal action. Witnesses can provide the affirmation that you have acted under the law and have remained ethical throughout the process.


In some cases, you may need to request a security escort off the premises; however, they should not be present in the room while explaining the circumstances of the termination. Having a security or police officer nearby in case of violence by the fired employee may or may not be necessary – use your best judgment.


Ensure Legality


If you find that you need to fire an employee, it’s best to consult an HR representative like RTR Consulting beforehand to make sure you complete the process legally. Making sure that your actions are within the law and are conducted ethically will help to avoid possible lawsuits down the line. If your employee has signed a contract, you may only fire them if they are in violation of that contract. However, if they have not signed a contract, they are technically employed at-will and may be fired at any time without explanation.


Inform Current Employees


Some businesses may find it necessary to inform other employees of the termination of their coworker. Explaining any changes in workload and any new opportunities or positions may also be a way to keep morale high. There is no reason to go into explicit detail over why they were fired, and as always, remain professional.


Before Getting to Termination


To avoid having to utilize these tips to terminate an employee, you can try some preventative measures:


  • Create a Formal Job Description
  • Conduct Interviews
  • Check References
  • Conduct Performance Reviews (twice a year)


These are just a few steps to take with a new employee – both during the interview process and while training them, that can hopefully help avoid the need for having to fire them in the future.


If you are in the situation of having let an employee go and need some assistance, you should reach out to a locally trusted Human Resources advisor. Get in contact with us today. RTR Consulting has more than 20 years devoted to developing effective and efficient human resources policies, procedures, and best practices for small, start-ups, and medium-sized businesses.


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