Employee Termination, How to handle

Human Resources

How to Handle Employee Termination


Terminations should be handled in a professional, organized manner. Terminations should not be a surprise, but the final step in a plan of performance management that has not succeeded. All of the efforts to support the employee should be well-documented and should have been communicated in previous counseling sessions.


Review the circumstances before the termination meeting to ensure that everything is in order and legal.


Most authorities advise against terminating an employee on Friday or the day before a holiday because it allows time for the employee to become even more upset. It is recommended that the employee be terminated early in the week when there are work days remaining in which he or she can seek work.


It may be advisable to have two people representing the organization (usually the employer’s direct supervisor and a human resources representative) present. The termination meeting should be brief.


The following checklist may be useful in preparing for the meeting.


1.  Tell the employee the purpose of the meeting.  Although the reason for termination should be communicated, there is no need to go through a step-by-step analysis of the documentation supporting the reason for discharge. If the employee is being terminated based on a single egregious violation of policy or conduct – such as improper use of organization funds or inappropriate behavior toward a fellow employer or client – the policy that was violated should be cited.


2.  If the termination is not related to performance, but a management decision such as a reduction in staff, acknowledge the employee’s contributions to the organization. Explain what, if anything, will be done to assist the employee in securing future employment.

However, advise that the decision is final and cannot be reversed. This is not a negotiation.


3.  Where appropriate (as in the case of staff reductions), advise that alternative in-house positions were explored.


4.  Emphasize that all relevant factors were reviewed.


5.  If applicable, stress that everyone involved in management activities agreed to the decision.


6.  Tell the employee the effective date and time of the termination.


7.  If a severance package is offered, review it with the employee. It is often desirable to give two (or more) weeks notice, but write the check and send the employee home without permitting the notice period to be worked. This all depends on the situation.


Review with the employee a written summary of benefits due immediately or that may continue for some period after employment.  This summary should include compensation for vacation and sick time, continuation of health and life insurance benefits, other benefits and re-employment assistance.


8.  Have final paychecks ready. If the employee is to leave immediately, collect the employee ID and any keys, have any final checks, benefits or vacation payments prepared and inform the employee how to collect his or her personal belongings and leave the premises.


9.  Other options:


Provide the employee with a written summary of projects to be transferred to ensure a smooth transition of work if the employee will remain as an active employee for a period of time. This depends on the circumstances and the employee.


Outline the next steps in the termination process, such as the last day of work, return of organization ID, keys and credit cards. Explain that the employee’s final check will not be delivered until these items and any other organization property in his or her possession has been returned. If there is any question of the security of the organization’s funds, data or property, the employee should be advised to clean out his or her desk immediately and in the presence of a manager.


In the case of all terminated employees, access privileges to all organizational computer systems and data should be withdrawn as soon as the employee has been informed. It should not be possible to logon to an organizational computer after termination.


10.  End the interview by saying that the employee will be notified of any other matters that must be dealt with, such as COBRA continued health coverage. Explain that the employee is guaranteed by law the option of continuing health care coverage, but will be responsible for paying the entire premium. The employee will receive information in the mail and will have time to pay the premium.


11.  Wish the employee good luck and express confidence in his or her future.


12.   Stand, extend your hand and remain standing until the employee has left the meeting site.


13.  If the terminated employee poses any risk of security or violence, he or she should be escorted politely from the premises.



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This work is supported under a five-year cooperative agreement # H235V060016 awarded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, and is administered by the Pass It On Center of the Georgia Department of Labor – Tools for Life.  However, the contents of this publication do not necessarily represent the policy or opinions of the Department of Education, or the Georgia Department of Labor, and you should not assume endorsements of this document by the Federal government or the Georgia Department of Labor.










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Other Information

Title: Employee Termination, How to handle
Module: Human Resources
Author: Trish Redmon
Audience: Administrator
Sub Title:
Procedure: Checklist
Organization Source: Pass It On Center
Last Reviewed: 10-25-2009 7:13 PM