HR Insight

What is the procedure for termination of an employee?

Terminating an employee, for any reason, can be a very stressful situation for both managers and human resources personnel. Job loss is a major event for an employee and the loss of an employee can have a significant impact on the team or department, as well.

Proper preparation prior to the termination can help to ensure it is done in a way that allows the employee(s) to leave with dignity, while mitigating risk to the organization. It is also important to maintain confidentiality about the reason for termination, while providing sufficient information to the staff to minimize disruptions internally.

Termination Steps
1. Evaluate:

Don’t make a snap-decision. If the employee has committed a gross violation of company policy, issue a suspension effective immediately. This will give you time to collect the proper documentation, cool down, and terminate effectively.

2. Collect Documentation:

It is highly recommended that your company conduct a full investigation prior to any termination of employment. Review and gather any progressive discipline violations, performance reviews, witness accounts, or evidence of wrong-doing – even if you are planning to terminate without cause it is a best practice measure to gather and review the information to affirm your decision. Remember that maintaining privacy is imperative.

3. Prepare Paperwork:

Regardless of the type of termination you will need to supply the terminated employee with a letter outlining that their employment has ended along with the effective date. These letters should be written very carefully and limited to only factual details. If the termination is without cause or due to no fault of the employees, the company will be required to provide notice and potentially severance. Documents to prepare:

  • Letter – ending employment.
  • Notice – can be written or pay in lieu and is based on the employees length of service.
  • Severance – if the employee has been with the company longer than 5 years and the company has a payroll of $2.5 million or more or if the termination is considered a group termination then severance will be required and varies based on the employee’s length of service.
  • Full and Final Release – full and final releases are generally requested as it protects the company from any wrongful dismissal charges. The employee must be given time such as 7 business days to review the package before returning the full and final release. Typically companies will also provide a gratuitous payment and/or employment transition services in exchange for a signed release.
4. Determine the Appropriate Person to Handle the Termination:

Ideally, when an employee is terminated, their immediate supervisor is responsible for handling the event but the task may fall to Human Resources. It is wise to have two people present for the termination to provide another witness to the proceedings — someone that can possibly assist with the termination, and deter any possibilities for physical violence.

5. Choose the Location and Time:

It has become increasingly prevalent to conduct terminations at the beginning of the week and early in the morning so that that the former employee has a chance to go home and search for a new job. Firing just before a weekend leaves the employee with a couple of days to stew, which can be problematic. The meeting place should be reasonably private, in the event that the employee has difficulty handling the news. Do not conduct a termination in a public place.

6. Terminate the Employee:

The termination needs to be done calmly and with empathy. Provide the employee with the reasons for termination, any necessary documentation, their final pay-check complete with accrued sick and vacation time, and offer them your condolences, wishing them all the best in their future endeavors. Allow them to tell their side of the story, or vent as required. By listening to them, you may be able to offer them some closure, and possibly ease their frustrations.

7. Communication:

Following the termination, typically, the company will need to communicate with remaining staff and/or clients of the change within the workplace. It is very important that the termination and surrounding events be kept confidential. A best practice measure is to develop a communication strategy ahead of time so that all clients and employees are given the consistent information.

8. Escort the Employee Off of the Premises:

You may choose to let the employee say goodbye to their co-workers, but more often than not the employee will prefer to leave the premises in a quick and private manner. Make sure that they remove all personal effects from their office, turn over any keys, documents, client lists, passwords, sensitive information, and parking and security passes that they may have in their possession.
It is important to address each termination on a case-by-case basis, and ensure that the decision that is being made will meet the requirements of employment standards and considers common law, and that appropriate due diligence is taken regarding the provision of notice, severance, payment of vacation accrued. To learn more about HRdownloads and to request an Ontario Termination guide call 1-877-438-9763.

How do I address personal calls on the job?

Personal calls on the job are generally appropriate only in the event of an emergency, as frivolous calls made in the workplace can increase costs while detracting from productivity and customer service levels.

Businesses should draft an appropriate policy that directs staff members that the use of company owned phones are for business purposes only, and that personal calls should be made using their personal cellular phones or available pay phones during scheduled breaks, in non-working areas. Additionally, personal cellular phones must be placed in “silent” mode during working hours.

In addition to personal calls, many businesses are combating issues presented by the new breed of smart-phones, as they offer a multitude of workplace distractions by offering users access to the internet, music player capability, video games, social networking (e.g. Facebook), and potential threats to privacy violations with camera functions and memory storage capabilities that could be used to harvest and remove confidential information from the workplace.

When drafting your policy for personal calls, consider addressing all of the issues identified above, or simply use HRdownloads’ Cellular Phones at Work Policy!

How do I address internet and/or social media use on the job?

Businesses should draft an appropriate policy that ensures that staff are directed to avoid the use of social media using company resources, or personal cell phones during working hours, and should wait until they are on a scheduled break to use these sites. When speaking to the issues surrounding all other forms of personal internet usage, it is critically important for businesses to create appropriate policies that ensure that the company is protected for a number of reasons:

  • Personal internet usage may expose the business to legal liability in the event that offensive or copyright protected materials are uploaded or downloaded using business-owned resources;
  • Potential harassment suits may occur where staff are viewing inappropriate / offensive materials;
  • Bandwidth available for legitimate business needs may be severely diminished by streaming video and music, or through excessive downloads; and
  • The business network that your operation may depend on could be threatened by viruses and malware that result from personal internet use.

As you can see, while on the surface, personal internet usage is not only an annoyance that detracts from overall productivity; there are more serious dangers that exist. As such, your business may want to draft a policy that restricts the personal internet use, clearly outlines acceptable and unacceptable usage, and stipulates that staff may use the internet for personal use during scheduled break periods.

When drafting your policy consider using HRdownloads’ Social Media Personal Use Policy!