Separation/Release of Employment
Telling an employee that the company is ending his employment is one of the hardest things an employer has to do, especially if he is not at fault. The events leading up to an employment separation can be frustrating for both the employee and the employer when an inability to perform the job is the reason. A good employer will make every effort to train the employee and give him a chance to succeed; however, sometimes a worker is simply not a good match for a job.
Employee insubordination makes a manager's job difficult and causes hardship for the company as well as other employees who are affected. Although an involuntary termination of the employee's job is best for the company, this doesn't make it any easier to deal with.
Prepare a printout for employees that tells them what they need to know about pay and benefits at the time of separation. Advise them of the ending dates of medical, dental, and life insurance, options for retirement-plan rollovers, and when they will receive their final paycheck if your state does not require that it be given upon separation.
Informing an employee of a layoff is probably the toughest of all terminations. The employee being released may be one in good standing with many years of seniority. But if downsizing is necessary to keep a company in business, people are let go as positions are eliminated.
Employees who are laid off due to no fault of their own are eligible for unemployment insurance wages. This will not replace their former salary and may not be enough to cover household expenses while they look for another job. Severance pay will be very helpful to the employee at this time. Most companies that offer a severance benefit base the payout on a percentage of the worker's salary and the length of time they were with the company.
Remind the employee that W-2 forms will be mailed out after the end of the year and to advise you if his address changes before then. Since the document will include his social security number, he will want to take steps to ensure that it is not mailed to his former address if he moves.
Involuntary Employment Terminations
Employee discipline is discussed in Chapter 15, but corrective action isn't always successful, or the employee has no motivation to remain employed, and it's a lost cause. An involuntary termination of employment is the next and final step in discipline.
To help avoid wrongful-termination lawsuits and keep your unemployment insurance costs down, document events that lead to employment separations thoroughly. Include the date and details about what happened along with counseling or retraining given to the employee. The last incident that leads to separation should be a strong one. For example, if an employee is terminated for excessive tardiness, don't end his employment because he was thirty minutes late to work due to a flat tire. But if he was sixty minutes late because he stayed out late last night and forgot to set his alarm clock, you can justify the termination. If it is a behavior issue, have the documentation that shows he was counseled, retrained, and given a fair chance to improve. Then, when a customer calls you to complain that he was rude and unhelpful, you have good reason to process his final paycheck if this is the third time it's happened.
Only in extreme cases like theft or workplace violence should someone be released without warning that continuing the behavior will result in termination. See Chapter 15 about verbal and written warnings.
Should I ever tell an employee that he's fired?
Don't tell an employee that he is being fired. There are better ways to say it, although the meaning is the same. Refer to it as being released from employment, separated from the company, or that the employment has been ended or terminated. When an employee has been released, all the other workers need to know is that the person no longer works there.
Be quick and direct when informing an employee that the company has made a decision to release him. The topic is not up for discussion and there is no reason for it to drag on. He will want to leave your office and be on his way just as eagerly as you will be to end the conversation. If you think that he may become angry or violent, have another manager with you when you tell him. Escort him to empty his locker or desk only if you feel that it is necessary. If he becomes hostile, you have the right to ask him to leave immediately and tell him that he is not allowed to return to the premises. In most circumstances, the employee will collect his things and leave quietly.