If you run a business, you’re eventually going to have an employee who is simply nonproductive — and you have to fire them.
It’s important to handle terminations with care, both to avoid unnecessary drama for your company and the potential for litigation over accusations of discrimination, breach of contract or other issues. Where do you start?
Steps for handling employee terminations
Every situation is a little different, but these are the things to keep in mind for most cases:
- Communicate the problems in advance: Nobody likes getting fired, but nobody should be surprised when it happens over performance issues. Make sure you give your problem employee candid feedback about their performance and your dissatisfaction long before you intend to fire them.
- Document the situation as you go: You need to keep records of every conversation you have with your employee about their work, including what steps you took to guide them back on track and what agreements were made. Make sure you also keep track of any performance evaluations and write-ups.
- Consider paying a severance: When the time comes to finally let them go, consider offering them a severance package in exchange for a release of liability from legal claims and a non-disparagement agreement. This is an up-front investment that can pay off by eliminating lawsuits.
- Have a witness: When you deliver the bad news, do it in person — and have a witness present who can later attest to what was done and said. That can help protect your future interests if there is a dispute.
Despite your best efforts, you may still one day find yourself on the receiving end of a wrongful termination suit. Taking these steps will help you assert a strong defense.