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Firing Employees: Do’s and Don’ts

By: Dianne Shaddock

© 2010 Easy Small Business HR. All rights reserved.

Firing Employees: Do's and Don'ts Special Report From:

If you manage employees, sooner or later you will be faced with making the very difficult decision to fire an employee for poor performance or some other work related infraction. The decision to fire a worker should not be taken lightly. Think about the following “Do’s and Don’ts” before taking a step towards ending a staff members’ employment: Don’t: Leave the task to someone who does not have direct supervision of the worker being fired. If you are their direct supervisor, you have the ultimate responsibility to deliver the “bad news”. Why? Not only does it put the person who does not supervise the employee in an unfair and uncomfortable position of being the messenger of your decision, but it makes the affected employee feel dismissed, angry and resentful. Sit with your employee and be clear with them as to why they are being fired. If you have been communicating with your worker prior to notifying that they will be let go, (and I hope that you have), the fact that you have reached the point where they will be fired should not be a surprise to them. 1

© 2010 Easy Small Business HR. All rights reserved.

Don’t: Fire an employee on the spot unless the actions are so egregious that it requires immediate removal from the workplace. Why? It is critical to be consistent with how you determine what acts of employee conduct or misconduct rise to the level of firing an employee. All businesses no matter how small should have basic standards in place that highlight your expectations relating to employee conduct or behavior in the workplace and the consequences of violating these standards. Firing an employee without having company standards in place that show that you have specific expectations of employees and their behavior complicates situations where an employee feels that they have been treated unfairly. You should always investigate all situations that are brought to your attention whenever possible. This means talking not only to the employee in question, but any other staff members, customers, or clients who may be able to provide details that will inform your decision to keep or fire the employee. If you don’t have any standards or policies in place, the best approach for firings involving less complicated work violation situations may be to give the employee a warning that their actions are inappropriate and then clearly highlight your expectations moving forward. Let them know that any future violations will result in termination. Document the date that the employee received this information and place a note in their file. Be proactive and summarize your expectations of all employees in writing including the consequences for misconduct. Give a written document to all of your employees that highlight your expectations. Employees deserve to 2

© 2010 Easy Small Business HR. All rights reserved.

know what is expected of them, as well as the consequences of certain actions or behaviors in the workplace. Do: Fire workers who have crossed the line of what is considered egregious inappropriate behavior if you are absolutely certain based on the facts that the employee is guilty of misconduct. Behaviors that might require immediate dismissal if proven are: Violence against others

Sexual harassment


Bringing weapons to work

Remember to be proactive and have written standards in place that highlight the company’s position on employee conduct and behavior. Be careful to fully investigate any complaints before making the decision to fire a worker. If you are not sure if a worker is guilty of any violation and you need time to learn more in situations such as the ones described above, suspend the employee with pay until you are able to research the situation and talk to all of the individuals involved. 3

Š 2010 Easy Small Business HR. All rights reserved.

Do: Respect the privacy and confidentiality of everyone involved by meeting with your employee(s) in a private area; (it’s o.k. to have a management person present if appropriate as a witness). Do: Tell your employee the reason for the termination. Have a letter prepared briefly summarizing the reason for their being fired, the date of the firing and when their benefits will end, (if applicable). Give your employee their last paycheck if at all possible when you notify them that they are being fired. If this is not possible, let them know when they can expect to receive their last check and that it will be mailed to their home. It is recommended that you consult with an employment law attorney if you do not have a dedicated human resources professional in place to help you through these more complicated situations.


Š 2010 Easy Small Business HR. All rights reserved.

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© 2010 Easy Small Business HR. All rights reserved.

Firing Employees: Do's and Don'ts  
Firing Employees: Do's and Don'ts  

There will always be a time in the life of a manager when he or she needs to terminate an employee. In doing so, a manager should always be...