How to Fire an Employee

  Firing an employee is not an easy task – preparation is key.  When firing an employee, careful planning can limit misunderstandings, anger and recrimination.  Before you meet with the employee, make sure that there is detailed documentation in regard to the employee justifying your actions.  Pull together performance appraisals, written warnings, salary information, and all correspondence with that employee, especially if it is related to job performance.

             If an employee is entitled to additional consideration, such as severance, medical coverage, or additional vacation days, you should have your attorney draft a waiver for the employee to sign.  It is important to include all termination benefits to which the employee is entitled.  Make the employee’s receipt of the additional consideration dependent on his or her agreement not to sue.

             You will want to collect everything that the company has given to the employee.  Determine which computer passwords, access codes, and permissions need to be changed.

 If possible, have a witness such as your Human Resources manager observe the proceedings.  This witness will then be available to corroborate the events of the meeting should the former employee decide to sue.

 At the beginning of the meeting, explain to the employee why he or she is being terminated. Be firm but courteous while outlining the reasons as succinctly as possible.  Make sure that the employee completely understands why he or she is being fired, rather than just reprimanded.  Still, try to limit explanations and discussion about the termination.  It is important no to apologize for taking this action.  Give the employee time to express his or her feelings and provide honest answers without leaving room for any debate.

 Finally, explain the conditions of the termination, such as the severance package and any benefits or outplacement services offered. Then have the employee sign all related paperwork, including any appropriate waivers or agreements.  Try to conclude the meeting with a handshake and a sincere wish that the employee do well in the future.  It is always best to leave things on a positive note and keep any hard feelings or upset to a minimum.


 © 2008 Parsonage Vandenack Williams LLC


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