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Guidelines for terminations.

Guidelines For TERMINATIONS

It is not unusual for an employer to have to deal with the difficult task of firing an employee. Yet, seldom is there the opportunity to be trained on just how to accomplish this.

There are a number of "do's" and "don'ts" involved in firing an employee. Conducting a firing in the proper manner reduces the likelihood of wrongful dismissal lawsuits as well as loss of employee morale or reputation in the community as an employer.

Dr. Sy Eber, an Industrial Sociologist specializing in Outplacement Counselling has published an employers guide to help conduct compulsory terminations. In this comprehensive yet concise framework, he leads the employer through a number of questions and concerns relevant to the pre-termination, termination and post-termination planning process.

The description of "Do's" and "Dont's" below gives some sample of the discussion provided in his guide entitled "EXIT [R]".

DO's

Pre-Termination

1. Ensure that you have legal

grounds to terminate the

employee (eg. performance,

redundancy, etc.). 2. Consult with your lawyer. 3. If it's a performance problem

leading to the termination be

sure that you have given

adequate warning and support to

the employee. Document each

discussion and build your case. 4. Check to see if there are any

extenuating circumstances that

should be addressed. For

example, is the employee

suffering from an illness? Should

this be a case for disability

rather than termination? 5. If you are firing for "just cause"

(eg. theft, damage to property,

etc.) you should consult your

lawyer and proceed quickly but

with due caution. For example,

it may be inappropriate to give

a severance package under

these circumstances. 6. Determine your severance in

accordance with legislative

requirements in your jurisdiction.

(Notice, or pay in lieu of notice

plus severance, is often a

format used). Beware of special

instances, for example, if you

enticed the employee away

from his/her last job, this could

cost you more. 7. Be careful when demoting an

employee or restricting his/her

ability to perform duties. This

may be labelled "constructive

dismissal" and the employee

may still work with your

organization but be entitled to a

severance package as well.

This could make for very

strained employer/employee

relations. 8. When firing an employee one

must be careful not to violate

Human Rights codes or the

Charter of Rights. Employees

are becoming increasingly

aware of their position vis a vis

the law and can challenge a

termination on this basis. 9. Consider any security risks

when planning a firing. Is the

person likely to cause damage

through sabotage, destruction

or personal violence in

retaliation?

Termination Interview

1. Plan the termination interview

well. Usually it's best that the

person's direct boss conduct

the termination. If there is a

question as to witness of

threats, then it may be

advisable to have one more person

present. 2. Have necessary documents

ready to hand to the employee.

For example, a letter of

termination, outstanding pay

cheque, severance cheque,

pension information, etc. 3. Conduct the termination in a

closed office -- your office, not

the employees. 4. Make sure the employee

understands that he/she is fired. 5. Avoid firing on Fridays or just

before statutory holidays. To

fire at those times would only

immobilize and frustrate the

employee. 6. Have an Outplacement

Counsellor on hand to meet with

employee to deal with

emotional and practical issues of

moving on to the next steps in

one's life. 7. Arrange for immediate or

postponed (but supervised) pickup

of personal belongings of the

individual. The direct manager

or supervisor should oversee

this process. 8. Consider how the employee

gets home. If driving, make

sure that he/she is stable

enough to drive. If not, then

send the person home by taxi. 9. Be sure to ask directly for the

keys, credit cards, etc. that the

employee might have.

Sometimes, it's best to give the

employee an envelope in which

he/she can leave these items on

the desk. 10. The key to successful

termination interview is to leave the

employee with as much dignity

as possible. Be sure that your

message of termination is brief

and to the point. This is not the

time for a performance

appraisal!

Post-Termination

1. Designate an individual in the

company (perhaps yourself) to

act as the prime contact for

later questions by the

employee, lawyers, etc. 2. You may provide references

(after the employee has signed

a release should you require

one). 3. Inform the remaining

employees immediately of the

departure of the terminated

employee and be positive about

the nature of the dismissal

speaking only of the person

moving on to a better fitting

job. 4. If you have fired the person on

the basis of redundancy, don't

hire a replacement right away.

DON'Ts

Pre-Termination

1. Don't move ahead without

planning the termination.

Speaking to your lawyer and

outplacement counsellor could

save you a lot of potential

trouble. 2. Don't tell other employees

randomly of your intention to fire

someone. Word could get out

prematurely. 3. Don't get so upset yourself that

the termination is more

traumatic for you than the

employee. 4. Don't assume that you are

anticipating all possible reactions.

Some employees are more

relieved than you predicted and

some are more distraught -- sometimes

to the point of

sabotaging operations or violence. 5. Don't delegate the task of

conducting the firing to someone

else. It's difficult but it's your

responsibility. 6. If the person has an addiction

problem, it may be best that

you not give a lump sum

severance payment at one time.

Protect the individual by paying

the severance over time. 7. Don't violate legislation. There

are legal requirements.

Violating these could cause problems. 8. Don't give the person a salary

increase within six months to a

year of firing for performance

problems.

Termination Interview

1. Don't try to defend your

position. You are there to give a

message... give it. 2. Don't give the employee coffee

or take him/her out for a meal

at the time of firing. This could

give them a captive audience

and could place you in an

awkward situation. 3. Don't have more than one or

two people in the interview.

To do so would be overbearing,

embarrassing and possibly lead

to confusion. 4. Don't blame the decision to fire

on someone else. It's your

decision. 5. If the employee is shattered

don't let him/her drive home.

Send the person home by taxi.

Don't drive the person

yourself. Again, you would be a

captive audience and you risk

additional liability if you get

into an accident.

Post-Termination

1. If the person is a threat, don't

hesitate to contact the police. 2. Don't oversell the person in

references. The new employer

can sue you if you oversell and

the person doesn't perform. 3. Don't rehire the person if

you've fired him/her for valid

reasons.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Canadian Institute of Management
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Eber, Sy
Publication:Canadian Manager
Date:Mar 22, 1990
Words:1142
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