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We're about to fire an employee—what steps must we take?

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in The HR Specialist Forum

Can anyone share with me a general checklist of the steps we must take and what needs to happen when we terminate an employee?—Mary Jo, Wisconsin



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Charmaine July 10, 2009 at 4:30 pm

I try to train my HR Professionals as well as my Managers that all files should tell a story. Documentation is the KEY. If you are ever questioned about a termination you should not have to explain anything to a lawyer if needed. Examples/specifics are also a key piece of any employee termination documentation. Documentation should not reflect personal feelings or emotions. You want the employee as well as any outside counsel to see the justification in the action via the documentation.

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Melissa July 1, 2009 at 8:11 am

Make sure you have all your documentation in place. If it’s a termination based on lack of performance, make sure to have all reviews and disciplinary actions/write ups available to back up the reasoning. If it’s a violation of a policy, make sure the policy is one that the employee had access to know about and is already in writing.
At our company, our managers have to bring any terminations to the HR dept first so they can discuss the reasoning and be sure that there is valid cause/documentation should things not go well. We also usually have both the manager and the level up manager be present so there is a witness.
No matter the process, be sure you have accurate and thorough documentation of the cause before going to the employee. Check with the state laws regarding pay at termination. (Some states require you to hand them their last check, including unused vacation pay at the time of termination.) Once you have the discussion, be sure to collect any company property (keys, computer, manuals, etc). Confirm the address on file is accurate in case there is anything that needs to be mailed after the termination.
Use this experience as a time to evaluate and draft a documented process so that you can be consistent with all future terminations.

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