Compliance & Legal

Tips for Terminating Employees The Right Way

Terminating employees is a delicate act that can result in legal repercussions if not handled properly. LaborSoft details these tips to improve the process.

Tips for Terminating Employees – There’s a Right Way AND a Wrong Procedure


As an employer, the last thing you want to be faced with is having to terminate a colleague. From the unavoidable reductions in force (RIF), to the justified “letting go” of employees, HR administrators and managers are frequently faced with this difficult task.


termination procedureMade more difficult is the fact that a termination can potentially lead to costly legal fees and settlement suits if not handled appropriately.  The first step when contemplating eliminating a staff member is to know both federal guidelines and state specific laws governing termination. Severance, unemployment insurance, and compliance paperwork need to factor into the procedure. Once you’re well versed in the mandates and employer responsibilities, consider the following tips that can make the process go smoothly and avoid confrontation or result in an unlawful termination suit.

 5 Tips for Improving Your Termination Procedure

  1. Be Respectful – The last thing HR should do in a situation like this is embarrass the employee or make a spectacle of the situation (a la the AOL public firing incident). Being discreet and minimizing public/company awareness of what is happening will prevent undue humiliation or yield unwanted repercussions.
  2. Don’t Handle the Situation Alone – The hearsay factor can easily be manipulated in a termination situation. Always have another colleague present when you fire an individual as an eyewitness to the practice and to verify procedural compliance should there be any debate in how it was handled.
  3. Present the Facts – Terminating an employee can escalate into a heated argument quickly. As an employer, a justified firing is based on facts rather than driven by emotions. While employees at will are not necessarily guaranteed a reason for termination, it would be wise to present your reasoning to prevent subsequent inquiries.
  4. Consistency is Key – HR should have a clear and concise termination procedure in place to expedite the process and avoid dispute. This will ensure that you’ve covered all that you need to in the way of compliance; exiting employees know their rights and what they are entitled to in terms of unemployment benefits; and to mitigate the risk of them returning with a legal team and a justified claim against you.
  5. Document Everything – While it goes without saying that most Human Resources procedures should be well documented, termination in particular must be recorded. From the moment the decision has been made and the reasoning behind the firing, to the minute the individual leaves the property, all documents and materials pertaining to their leave must be contained within their file for future reference if needed.

The termination procedure can be intimidating for some managers and have them second guessing their decisions. It’s important to note however, that the rationale for firing existed and corrective actions proved ineffective, therefore it’s likely it should be followed through.

Once you’ve opted to terminate employment, access to corporate technology, systems, hardware and password protected information should be immediately seized. Don’t give the individual any leverage to destroy corporate assets, potential evidence against them, or assume ownership intellectual property that isn’t theirs.


LaborSoft is the number one partner for employee and labor relations management solutions. Our innovative HR case management interface is configurable, cloud-based technology that makes it easy for you to document and archive all supporting materials for issues and grievances. LaborSoft saves you time and money with online features and capabilities that streamline investigations and minimizes risk.

Contact us for a customized demonstration and learn how LaborSoft can help you improve communications, build a more collaborative, safe, and supportive workplace, and reduce the likelihood of costly litigation.






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