“You’re Fired!” (Part One of a Two-Part Series)


9 Steps in Properly Terminating Employees

firedDonald Trump may have built a popular reality television series based upon his famous catch phrase, “You’re fired,” but in the real world, terminating employees requires more consideration, respect, and often, legal counsel.  Many small business owners are considering a serious reduction in staff in order to decrease costs and give their businesses a fighting chance of surviving the recession.  If you find yourself in the same boat, it’s important that you consider the legal ramifications for yourself as well as the emotional ramifications for your employee(s).  In this two-part series we’ll be sharing 9 steps that will help you best approach the process of terminating an employee.  In this article we will cover the first 5 of those steps:

1.    Be objective. Michael Lolito, in his article “How to Respectfully Terminate Employees” on Entrepreneur.com, explains that the decision to terminate should be a factual rather than an emotional one.  When making this decision you should collect all necessary paperwork.  In the case of termination, gather employee performance reviews, correspondence with the employee, and any written warnings that may have been issued.  In the case of a layoff, you may look into any paperwork required for severance pay and/or an extension of benefits.

2.    Make it legal. Whether you’re terminating or laying off an employee, you should consult with a lawyer in order to make sure that the process you follow is legal and will protect you from future lawsuits should a disgruntled employee decide to sue.  Also ensure that all necessary documentation has been gathered and filled out.  Your lawyer will probably offer you additional advice before meeting with the employee.

3.    Work out the details. Before meeting with the employee, you should work out all necessary details.  As mentioned previously, predetermine any type of severance package you plan to offer; the details of such a severance package should be based upon company policy or lawyer recommendation.  Also consider how long the employee will work for you before the termination is final.  Often, employers give the employee the option of working for the remainder of the week, or leaving immediately.  As long as the employee does not become violent or belligerent, you should not require an immediate vacation of the premises.

4.    Provide reasons, but don’t belabor the point. As soon as you know that termination is eminent, you should take measures to schedule an appointment with the employee. If possible, invite a human resource representative to witness the termination. Also avoid creating a tense and adverse environment for this meeting.  It should begin with reasons for the termination which are clear and to the point, however don’t belabor the discussion.  And while the employee may definitely want to voice a response, this meeting should not become a debate or negotiation.

Terminating an employee can be one of the most difficult things you do as a small business owner.  However, it’s often necessary to ensure the success of your practice.  One thing that could help is to offer employee training; it could boost performance and solidify an understanding of employer expectations.

UAC Offers Onsite Employee Training

UAC has been training professionals for 30 years in bookkeeping, accounting and tax services.  We know what your clients need; we know what your business needs.  And a knowledgeable, trained staff will do wonders for your bottom line.  Whether it be business management, accounting, or tax training, we can provide complete, onsite training for your employees.  And regardless of their positions, we can help them understand how their work contributes to your business model.  Learn more by visiting UAC’s website today!

Return next week when we’ll be covering the final 5 steps in properly terminating an employee:

5.    Don’t blame or apologize

6.    Express gratitude for work done

7.    Let the employee respond

8.    Wrap up loose ends

9.    Note lessons learned


“How to Fire an Employee.” AllBusiness.com

Lolito, Michael J.  “How to Respectfully Terminate Employees.” 18 August 2008  Entrepreneur.com

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