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March 28, 2014

How to Respectfully Terminate an Employee

Group of EmployeesWhether you’ve decided to terminate an employee or simply got stuck with the unpleasant task, it’s hard to be the bearer of bad news. But, even if you’re uncomfortable, it’s important to terminate an employee in a way that allows him or her to maintain dignity.

It’s best to hold such a meeting in a private location, such as an office or conference room. This allows the employee to come to terms with the news without the need to hide from onlookers. Ensure that two managers are present. One, often an HR representative or direct supervisor, should deliver the news, while the other acts as a witness in case the employee attempts to file charges for harassment or wrongful termination.

Making a joke to soften the mood only gives the employee a false sense of comfort. Instead, begin the meeting by delivering the news right away. Give a brief explanation that led to the decision, but do not engage in an argument. If an employee tries to fight back, inform him or her that the decision is final and not open for negotiation.

Employees may have questions about why the termination is occurring, how to transfer their work, when their benefits expire etc. Be ready to answer with the appropriate documentation and a transition plan that was developed in advance of the termination.

Wrap up the meeting by going over the final details. Explain any included payments in the employee’s last paycheck, such as unused vacation time and/or severance. Go over pertinent COBRA and 401(k) information; offer hard copies of the information as well because employees may be too overwhelmed to remember everything you verbalized.

As the meeting comes to an end and, let the employee know that he or she is welcome to contact HR with any questions that may come up later. And, though you’re parting ways, it’s best not to burn bridges. Wish the former employee luck on his or her future endeavors and offer a compliment if you wish. Ending on a positive note prevents the former employee’s self-image from completely deflating and also may help prevent him or her from bad-talking your company.

Liability coverage can help if a former employee files a lawsuit. Call ACF Insurance Services, Inc. at 919-878-7786 for more information on Raleigh business insurance.

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