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How to Fire Someone Legally [Updated, 2019]

Updated on February 14, 2019
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I believe everyone is unique. Be open-minded and listen. Enjoy the work you do, learn and observe from mistakes.

How to Fire Someone

How to Fire Someone
How to Fire Someone

How to Fire An Employee

Terminating an employee is easy. There may be a time when an employee is not living up to company expectations (a nice way to put it), harming your revenue, or causing internal operation destruction. But, before doing so, there are some tips for firing someone legally.

Develop a Transition Plan - Terminating An Employee

Select a time and a day to fire that person. It is highly suggested to not act off bottled-emotions. It might seem logical, but happens more often than not, especially to those that start their first business. The best time to let someone go, is early in the week and early in the day. This will give them time to look for other jobs - nice right? There is a benefit to waiting to the end of the week. Firing someone near the end of the workday on Friday will cause the least amount of disruption to the rest of the staff. Again, as an employer, thinking of all angles before taking action is important.

Employers cannot fire employees for reasons that would violate anti-discrimination laws.

It is important to put the interest of the company first. Hopefully, the person being fired has gotten warnings before so it will not be a complete surprise. If being terminated without warning - make sure it doesn't back-fire for posing as discrimination.

What you really want is for the worker to have chance(s) to correct any issues, so it doesn't look like the action is out of the blue. When looking to replace this employee look for internal candidates. There may be some great people that already work for the company that is looking to move up or take on more roles.

Operate Like a Jury

Before letting this person go, be sure there is a justified reason to fire them. Imagine, you are in front of a jury and you are giving them your reason for firing this person. You need to think of anything that can be used as unfair or unjust. Reasons for letting this person go should be for good reason i.e. poor work performance or harmful to your revenue, having a toxic personality.

How to Fire an Employee

How to Fire an Employee
How to Fire an Employee

Firing Someone Step by Step

Think before acting. You may want to write down what you are going to say before you approach this person. Developing a script will help you continue with this act. You are making a business decision and you are not there to counsel the person. Importantly, once the decision is made, you need to be sure to follow it through. Be prepared for the other person to show some emotions, or physical reaction. It's makes the situation easier, when you engage in small talk and get right to the point. Choose your words wisely i.e. say something like “[Name] your employment has been terminated” rather than "[Name] you are fired".

Do not try to tell the person you understand how they feel or you understand what they are going through. You do not know what they are thinking at this time. Never try to comfort the situation by saying, "it's the best thing for them" because getting fired is a gut-punching news. If the possible, take some time to listen to what they have to say.

These are some things to say when you need to fire someone. While this is not an easy thing to do, it is not a personal attack against the person. It is a decision that has been made for the good of the company and you need to be firm and stick to your script. You cannot risk the company for one employee that is not performing up to expectations.

Lastly, as a final act of kindness, I personally would offer sincere support moving forward by offering networking contacts and recommendations.

Avoiding Litigation When Firing An Employee

  1. Employee Handbook - a document establishing policies that complies with local or industry-related laws.
  2. Document Violations - physical receipts of both employee and employer acknowledging poor performance or violation of company policy - signed and dated
  3. Enforce Police Equally - enforce consequences equally among all staff members.
  4. Investigate Before Firing - never act of emotions. Investigation through documented interviews with staff and review of any computer files and emails.
  5. Terminate with Dignity - end employment privately with a professional manner.
  6. Legal Reporting - report all legal requirements.

Do employee's deserve a face-to-face termination meeting?

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© 2019 Edgar M


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