"You’re fired." On The Apprentice, Donald Trump made it look so easy! For the rest of us, a poorly done termination could be costly. Emotions run high, there is a lot of paperwork involved, and an employer can end up with a big mess on their hands. Taking the time to do a termination properly can keep an employer out off court, so here are a few best practices to consider.
- Give the employee the chance to speak. In terminations, as in most things, people like to feel like they are being heard. Letting an employee let off steam or plead their case can be enough to avoid further issues. Take a few minutes to chat about the reasons behind the termination, but make sure to listen.
- Get a reference release. Type up the basic facts of employment that would be given if a future prospective employer were to call looking for a reference down the line. Have the employee sign to avoid any future confusion or possible defamation accusations.
- Determine how the final paycheck will be given. Some states require final pay to be given within a certain amount of time, a few even require it be given immediately.
- Explain how the employee can arrange to receive benefits, if any, including COBRA continuation coverage. Provide proper documents when applicable.
- Consider having the employee sign a release form. Having an employee sign a brief explanation of the reasons behind the termination and explaining that they understand any non-compete agreements or waivers of rights can be extremely useful to employers in the case of litigation.
While firing is probably not your favorite HR task (at least I hope it isn’t!), it is something that comes up now and again. Take the time to terminate correctly, otherwise you might have to fire someone twice…talk about awkward!