HR Webinar Recap: Employment Termination Best Practices

HR Webinar Recap: Employment Termination Best Practices

On September 10, 2019, Kistler Tiffany Benefits’ HR Manager Maria Peterson hosted a webinar that reviewed the types of employee terminations as well as the various laws that need to be considered before dismissing an employee.

It is never easy to terminate an employee nor can you totally eliminate risk. This program was designed to share ideas and best practices to minimize legal risk and minimize damage to employee morale and your company’s brand. Key takeaways were:

  • Don’t terminate anyone on the spot! If you need time to conduct an investigation or review documentation, put alleged rule violator on a paid leave pending investigation.
  • Protect your company’s Employment at Will rights by having at will disclaimers on your employment application, offer letter and employee handbook (See Sample Handbook Disclaimers Here) and have employee sign employee handbook acknowledgement (Sample Receipt of Company Handbook)
  • Weigh the risks of termination versus the risks of retaining employee(s)
    • Review employee’s personnel file and all existing documentation
      • Is the employee a member of a protected class?
      • Have they complained, been a witness to a complaint or filed a claim within the last four to six months?
      • Was the employee on job protected leave recently?
      • Is the employee covered under a written or implied contract?
    • Review applicable federal, state and local laws
    • Review company handbook, past practices, precedents
    • Get legal counsel involved if necessary
  • Once decision is made, plan and prepare for the termination meeting
    • Use a termination checklist (Sample Termination Checklist) to ensure that you do not miss any critical steps and are consistent
    • Determine who will speak during meeting and what will be said
    • Have another witness in room (HR or another member of management)
    • Meet in person
    • Schedule a private room where there won’t be interruptions
    • Prepare any termination letters or severance/separation agreements ahead of time
      • Determine whether you will offer any outplacement services
  • During termination meeting, be respectful and compassionate and treat the individual with dignity
    • Decision to terminate made and explain reason why (avoid apologizing and any small talk)
    • Allow the employee to speak, but don’t lose control of the meeting or your emotions (remain calm)
    • Review any benefits information and what will happen going forward
    • Conduct exit interview with employee (Model Exit Interview Example HR – Exit Interview Questionnaire)
    • Collect company property, alert IT to cancel access to electronic files
    • Wish employee the best and let them know they can contact HR with any additional questions
  • Communicate to the organization
    • Make a brief announcement to the company but don’t give too many details about the termination and don’t apologize for the termination
    • Minimize employee concerns and fears (what does this mean for those still employed?)
    • Thank the departing employee for their work

A recording of the September webinar presentation can be found below.