How To Fire an Employee

A women sitting in an office.How To Fire An Employee

Firing an employee is not an easy duty. Many managers get nervous and dread performing the task.

Breaching company policy, unacceptable behavior, cutbacks, position elimination are conditions of termination. When all other solutions are exhausted, you, as a manager, business owner, or HR manager, may have to be the one to terminate.

In this post, you’ll find an abundant amount of information related to firing an employee. Each article has been hand-picked and organizing sections for your convenience. Before you get to the resource section, I’ll share my experience and perspective with you.

Does Firing Somone Make You Feel Bad?

During my career, I have had to fire a few people. Most of the time, I felt bad, not for the reasons I was doing it for, but for the people. I have never fired a person for an invalid reason. And I also felt bad for being the one to deliver the news.

I have also felt bad for others that weren’t in my department for being let go, even though I wasn’t involved.

Sometimes There is No Other Choice But To Terminate

Some people just have to go. Some deserve to go, some made a bad decision that ended up getting them terminated, and I think those are the ones I feel for most. Sometimes it’s that one bad act that can get you terminated.

How I handled Delivering The News

What got me through terminating my employees was focussing on the issue at hand and not how it would affect the person.

If all I focussed on was how the person was feeling or what they had to go through to find another job, it would have been harder for me to go through the process. Focusing on the violation or reasons for termination makes it easier to focus on that and let the person know there was no other way.

I find if you get to the point and make it a short as possible, it’s the best for everybody.

What To Prepare for Before Terminating an Employee

It’s a good idea to have a checklist ready to make sure you cover all the issues required. In the resources below, I have included a section that will allow you to find and create checklists to ensure you cover all bases.

You want to have your documentation ready and even prepare a script if that makes it easier for you. Don’t bring up past issues. This should not be about issues in the past that are not relevant to the reason for termination.

There are times I’ve had to let people go when we had an HR department. I have to say it’s easier when you have an HR department with a thorough understanding of employment law. They have procedures in place, and you have all the documentation you need to terminate an employee effectively.

You will want to have a witness. The witness should be from HR or another manager or supervisor. Avoid having a witness that has the same rank as the employee you’re firing. It’s best to have a witness that holds a management position.

Example of How a Termination May Play Out

Here’s a Fictitious of a Termination:

Thanks for coming into the office today, Joe. I have brought in Jack as a witness.

I’d like to talk to you about the error you are aware of that was made on June 16. As you know, because you did not verify the order number as specified in our SOP and is common practice, the order was sent to the wrong customer. One customer was shorted, and another customer had an overage.

We lost the customer who did not get their order. They had a big sale and had to deal with customers coming to purchase a product they didn’t have due to your error.

Joe, this is the third time this has happened. Once on January 15, once on May 12, and the lasted occurred on June 16. You have been given more than one chance to rectify the errors, but they are still happening.

The company prides itself on getting orders out on time, every time. As the result of this third reoccurring error, a decision has been made. We have decided to terminate your employment with cause, effective immediately.

I will go with you to pick up your personal belongings and escort you out of the building. Here is a copy of your termination letter explaining your last pay and any unpaid vacation owed to you.

HR will contact you to summarize your final pay. Here is a copy of the termination letter.

At this point, the employee may react or may not. I have had some people say okay, I understand.

I have had others plead their case. I don’t find this effective. They are already aware of the error, and the meeting is to inform them of the decision.

Organized companies do not fire people on the spot; they may suspend in hostile situations. Otherwise, they let the employee know about the error and review the circumstances. These types of meetings are to inform an employee of the outcome.

I had one employee that was terminated, and after given the news, they wanted to vent. There were three of us in the room, and nothing was said on management’s part. We let the employee vent and escorted them out.

If we were to interact, the termination could have gone on for hours. The decision was made; there is no point in disusing the issue further.

Never Say, Sorry

I know it may sound a little harsh and cold, but you have to keep in mind when terminating an employee, never say sorry. When you say you’re sorry, in a way, you’re admitting fault. Even though you may be sorry about how the situation ended up, keep it to yourself.

Therefore I never say I’m sorry, never write I regret to inform you, instead say things like; because of the situation, because of the company policy, because of job reductions. Etc. This way, the termination is because of a valid reason, not because of something you did wrong. What you should mention are the precise circumstances that caused the termination.

Does It Feel Bad Letting an Employee Go?

I would say at times it’s painful, and other times it’s not. I’ve had to let people go in both scenarios where they were at fault and didn’t even try to correct their actions when they had a chance. It really didn’t bother me in those situations because the person didn’t want to be there. It showed in their work that I felt termination is best for all parties involved.

At other times I had to let people go because of policy breaches. You can’t bend the rules, and when it’s like the law, you can’t break the law because you like the person. The law is the law, and to be fair do you have to treat employees equally.

It’s those times that you feel there’s nothing you could do and the termination had to go through because of the situations involved. It’s those times I feel bad for the person and wonder how they’re going to get by without a job and if they are going to be able to find another job.

Termination Due To Cut Backs

There are times you have to lay people off or terminate due to budget cuts. I would say these hurt the most because if there are cuts, that means the economy isn’t good, or the business isn’t doing well, and you have to let people go.

When the economy is hurting, and you need to let people go, it is a sign that it will be difficult for them to find work elsewhere. That’s the hardest part of letting people go due to cutbacks.

Severance Pay

Letting someone go without cause; in other words, when it’s not their fault, then there may be a compensation package that goes along with the termination. Depending on the company and your years of service and employment laws in your area, there may or may not be severance pay.

For example, an executive package may consist of a lump sum, continued benefits, and access to a placement agency to help them find similar employment. All of the combined is otherwise known as a package.

If I’m running the company, I will offer the best package I can for those who have been dedicated and loyal and put in many years of service.

I would also consider the benefits the employee had during their employment. Suppose the company offered many bonuses, great benefits, higher than average pay, and many other perks. In that case, my package may not be as generous as if someone put in many years with average or under average pay and benefits.

In my opinion, it’s best to be fair and generous when you can.

If you’re terminating employees due to financial woes, it will be difficult to offer generous packages.

Know The Employment Laws In Your Location

You must also keep in mind each country, state, or province may have different employment laws.

If you have an HR department naturally, you will work with them through the process. If not, you may want to seek legal advice to ensure you are terminating within the law; the last thing you need is a lawsuit because of wrongful termination.

The key point to remember is that the employee can always seek counsel after termination. You have to be prepared for an employee coming back through a lawyer and trying to sue you for wrongful termination. Make sure your termination is legitimate and backed up by clear and accurate documentation.

When it comes to the law, you can’t just use your word against theirs.


Performance Issues With Employees

Types of Employee Training Programs

Managing Employees That Don’t Listen


Below you’ll find many different sections containing information related to terminating an employee. If you have a termination coming up, look at the articles below so that you are up to date on the issues you may encounter.

Termination Script

Script for Terminating an Employee

How to Terminate an Employee (with Sample Scripts) | Workest

Checklist For Terminating an Employee

Employee Termination Checklist | How to Stay Compliant & Professional

Separation of Employment: An Essential Checklist | Paychex

How To Fire an Employee Gracefully

How to Fire an Employee Gracefully | Nafissa Shireen

How to Gracefully Let an Employee Go and Firing them the Right Way

5 Tips On How To Fire An Employee Gracefully

How To Fire an Employee Nicely

How To Fire Someone In The Nicest Way Possible

How to Fire Someone with Compassion and Respect – Lauren Bacon’s Curiosity Labs

How To Fire an Employee With a Bad Attitude

How to Fire People With Bad Attitudes | Small Business –

How to Fire an Employee With a Bad Attitude (the right way)

How To Fire an Employee for Poor Performance

The Right Way to Terminate an Employee for Poor Performance | Workest

6 vital steps before terminating an employee for poor performance – Insperity

Sample Dismissal Letter for Poor Employee Performance

How To Fire Someone You Like

How To Fire Someone You Like

How to Fire Someone You Actually Care About | The Muse

How to Fire an Employee You Like (And Not Feel Terrible Afterward)

How To Terminate an Employee During Probation Period

How to Let Go of an Employee Who Is on Probation | Small Business –

How To Fire an Unstable Employee

How to Let Go an Unstable Employee |

Planning terminations that involve potentially violent employees – ESI Group

How to Get Through a Hostile Termination |

How To Fire an Employee Over the Phone

When an Employer Can Fire You By Phone or Emaill

Can You Fire an Employee Over the Phone? (or by email?)

How To Fire an Employee Legally

How to Legally Fire an Employee

How to Fire an Employee Without Being Sued |

10 Steps Needed to Properly Fire Someone

Employment Laws Related To Termination

Wrongful Termination – FindLaw

Wrongful Termination: What Is It?

7 things employees get wrong about ‘wrongful termination’

Illegal Reasons for Firing Employees

Illegal Reasons for Firing Employees | Nolo

Firing an Employee? Here are the illegal things to NOT do | Workest

Wrongful Termination Laws: Illegal Reasons – FindLaw

Termination Questions

Can You Be Fired for Bad Behavior Outside Work

Firing Employees for Bad Behavior Outside of Work – Employment Law Handbook

When Can You Fire for Off-Duty Conduct?

Misconduct Outside Work – Can Your Employer Fire You?

Can You Fire an Employee for Gossiping

Can You Fire an Employee for Gossiping? (Yes – here’s the right way)

Can an Employer Fire Someone Who Is Involved in Gossip About the Boss? | Woman – The Nest

Workplace Gossip: What Crosses the Line?

Can You Fire an Employee for Talking Bad About the Company

Can You Fire an Employee for Talking Bad About the Company?

Can you fire an employee for talking bad about the company? – Quora

Can You Prohibit Employees from Bad-mouthing Your Company on Social Media? – NJBIA – New Jersey Business & Industry Association

Can You Fire an Employee for No Reason

Can you be fired for no reason?

Can an Employer Fire You For No Reason | UpCounsel 2020

Can I Fire an Employee for Drinking on the Job

Firing Employees With Drinking Problems – Employment Law Handbook

Drunk at Work: What HR Can Do About Employees Drinking on the Job

Drinking On The Job? Five Things Employers Need To Know In The Wake Of The USC Football Coach Controversy

How Does It Feel Getting Fired

What It’s Like to Get Fired

What does it feel like to be fired?

What To Know About Severance Packages

5 Things You Need to Know When You’re Offered a Severance Package

10 Things To Know About Severance Packages

The Layoff Payoff: A Severance Package

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