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What Every Employer Should Be Aware of When Terminating an Employee

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Terminating employees is stressful, which is why so many HR professionals make the mistake of rushing through the process. If you don’t thoroughly check your work during and after termination, you’re setting yourself up for potential problems in the future, including potential litigation from the worker you just terminated. Here are some things to consider when terminating an employee to ensure everything goes smoothly and that you follow all the laws and procedures that are necessary.

Pre-termination:

Employers should make sure to review employees’ files for post-employment obligations. These files can range from non-competition agreements to confidentiality agreements. Make sure to make a copy of the agreement to give to departing employees to remind them of their obligations when departing from their role at your company.

While the termination meeting is taking place make sure to have someone in IT sever the employees’ computer access. Make sure to take into account that many staff members have remote access which will need to be taken care of as well.

Schedule a good time to have the termination meeting, near the end of the workday is usually best. It is also best to conduct the meeting in the employees’ offices or in a conference room. This is so that if the employee wants to engage in an extended dispute about their termination, it is much easier for the employer to leave an employee’s office or a conference room rather than to have an employee leave your office.

During Termination:

Let the employee know that their computer access has been taken away but also reassure them that you’ll work with them to get any personal info they have off their work computer.

Make sure to receive all company property back from the employee. This may include items such as phones, laptops, keycards, and keys. If staff members have any company documents or property at home, arrange for a time to pick those items up or for the employee to drop them off. It is also important to ask the employee if they’ve emailed any company documents to themselves, and if so you must ask them to erase them.

It is important that if an employee complains about discrimination or retaliation after they have been terminated, do not dismiss it. Have them explain in detail why they’re claiming bias. Make notes of the conversation and tell the employee you’ll investigate their claim while also making it clear your decision still stands. When looking into the claim further, if it has some merit make sure to get in touch with a lawyer immediately.

Post-termination:

Arrange for employees to pick up their personal items. It is important for employers to decide how workers will obtain their belongings after termination whether employers will walk employees back to their desks immediately after the meeting or arrange to meet with them at the office over the weekend.

It is a good idea to give workers a termination letter reminding them of any post-employment obligations. Some states also require employers to give a reason for their termination in the letter, so check with your state’s laws to determine what your obligations are as an employer.

Of all the laws involved with terminations, giving terminated employees their final paycheck is the most confusing. Each state’s laws vary significantly, and it is important to check your local laws on the following:

  • Paying out unused vacation time
  • Paying out unused sick leave
  • When you must pay terminated employees their final paycheck (This can depend on, whether staff members quit, are fired, or leave by mutual agreements.)

Lastly, ask the employee how they would prefer to receive their final paycheck. Whether they would like to pick it up in person or if they’d prefer it be mailed to them.

The Biggest Termination Mistakes Employers Should Avoid

How do most companies get in trouble terminating an employee? For one, some companies don’t explain the reason for the termination. If you’re an employer looking to get sued a great way would be to, sugarcoat or over-exaggerate the reason you’re firing someone. With both approaches, you will have a hard time pleading your case to a judge.

When it comes to the termination of an employee, consistency is key. If you’re new to the company, it is important to learn how the company has handled similar terminations in the past and look to keep the same model for all occurrences.

It is important for employers to treat departing employees well. Being respectful only helps your company’s reputation as well as it is the right thing to do.

Procrastinating the process of terminating an employee can be one of the biggest termination issues you, as an employer can face. Not taking action at all and prolonging the termination process of an employee who has been performing poorly kills overall company morale.

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