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Termination Checklist and Guidelines for Employers

Time To Say Goodbye

Termination Checklist and Guidelines for Employers

Termination is never an easy part of a manager’s job. However, the steps you take beforehand can reduce the difficulty and the company’s possible exposure to wrongful termination lawsuits.

HR experts agree that firing an employee shouldn’t come out of the blue. Termination should be the final step in a thorough process of establishing company policy, conducting regular performance evaluations, applying constructive discipline, and dispassionately considering the employee’s risk and value to the company.

How can you reduce the emotional element of termination and reduce the threat of lawsuits? Consider using the following checklist as a guide to making the process constructive for all employees.

Standard Procedure for All Employees

  • Distribute a discipline policy (through an employee handbook or otherwise) at the time of employment, and make the rules available online or elsewhere so all employees have notice
  • Consistently follow the discipline policy, and treat employees fairly and consistently

Disciplinary Procedure

  • Inform employee of the infraction
  • Maintain records of the infraction in a personnel file
  • Provide employee an opportunity to improve—treat discipline as a constructive process, not just as punishment
  • Act expeditiously on allegations of harassment or other serious misconduct
  • Perform investigation if appropriate

Determining Penalties

  • Consider an employee’s overall performance, value, and risk to the business

Executing the Termination

  • Complete termination report
  • Draft termination letter, with management and assistance of counsel if necessary
  • Inform human resources and payroll
  • Inform administrators of health, retirement, and other benefit plans

Employee Meeting

  • Include supervisor and HR representative
  • Discuss severance, if applicable
  • Inform departing employee of COBRA, state-mandated or employer-provided continuation health coverage
  • Establish a contact for any outstanding HR issues

Closing Matters

  • Request return of company equipment, data, or other property
  • Comply with state final paycheck timing requirements
  • Conduct exit interview, if appropriate

If you need help with this process or have questions regarding this situation.