Terminations are unpleasant, but avoiding them can lead to bigger issues in your workplace, including lower morale and efficiency.
As a human resources company with over 50 years of experience, Cornerstone Insurance Group has gained valuable insight into how best to handle terminations within any organization.
Proper Human Resources Procedure for Terminations
Base the termination process on objective and well-documented facts and details, including statements from any individuals involved.
To limit the risk of litigation following a termination, follow the disciplinary process. The decision to terminate an employee should not be done on impulse and should be weighed against the severity of the issue and the number of written warnings given prior to the offense.
If the problem behavior meets the requirements outlined in the employee handbook and company policies, use the following steps to limit your risk and ensure the least amount of disruption to operations.
Steps for Human Resources to Take Before and During a Termination Meeting
Prepare Human Resources and your team for the termination meeting:
- Gather copies of important documents or information that the employee may need, including information on COBRA and severance packages.
- Assess any security issues that may arise during the meeting or as the employee is leaving.
- Make a list of any company equipment, technology, or proprietary information that the employee must return before exiting the building.
Keep these points in mind during the termination meeting:
- Meet in a neutral location and try to conduct the meeting at the beginning or end of the day when there are fewer employees around. This helps provide a less embarrassing situation for the employee who is being terminated.
- Treat the individual with dignity and respect.
- Allow the employee to express concern about the decision, but do not be swayed.
- Be prepared to answer questions about the employee’s final paycheck, unused vacation time, benefits, etc. In some states, a final paycheck must be provided to the employee at the time of termination.
- Do not promise the individual another job opportunity within the organization or otherwise.
- While a witness is not always necessary, often you may feel more confident or secure having another supervisor or Human Resources representative present.
After the meeting is finished, do the following:
- Collect all company property, including keys to the building, laptops, cell phones and company credit cards.
- Don’t embarrass the employee by having them escorted out by security (unless the reason for termination was due to a violent offense or there is a true safety concern).
When all is said and done, even when you think you’ve done everything to mitigate the risks, employee claims can still happen. Lawsuits are expensive and time-consuming, and they do happen. To avoid additional potential for litigation, your company should always do its best to reduce employer-related compliance risk.
Employment practices liability (EPL) insurance can be your next line of defense. EPL insurance protects your company from costs associated with employee lawsuits.
Contact Cornerstone Insurance Group if you’d like more assistance with human resources, compliance consulting or employee termination.
This is the final edition of a series of blog posts on Employee Discipline and Terminations to help employers navigate the implications of employee discipline and terminations, including mitigating the risks of employee claims. View the first article in the series, Company Policies and the Employee Handbook. Need additional assistance and human resources solutions? Get in touch with our team today.
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