By Edward Woodall

Nobody likes firing employees. It’s uncomfortable; you’ll have to find a replacement; it could expose you to liability; you’ve invested a lot in training and retaining them; and, to be honest, you really thought it would work out when you hired them. But sometimes it’s necessary.

In this post, the first in a three-part series, I’ll walk you through the first steps you need to take once you decide that you need to terminate someone’s employment.

Prior to the termination meeting, you should:

  • Review all access the employee has to company property (offices, cars, storage, etc.) and sensitive company information.
  • Arrange for changes to any locks, if necessary.
  • Arrange for IT personnel to change passwords and access to your computer system, bank accounts, website, etc., as needed. If you need any passwords from the employee, do your best to get them ahead of the termination meeting.
  • If the employee has any company property that you will want returned (computer, car, equipment, other), it is easiest to arrange for the termination meeting to occur where and when you will best be able to make sure that property is returned properly.
  • If the employee deals regularly with any customers, suppliers, or vendors, we encourage the company to be proactive in establishing relationships with those parties separate from the employee so that those relationships with your company are not interrupted more than necessary.
  • If any of the company’s other employees need to have advance notice of the termination, please do so discreetly. We typically encourage you to reveal a termination prior to its occurrence only to those other employees that “need to know,” and that you make it very clear that they are not to reveal this information to anyone in advance of the termination.
  • If you have any agreements or plans with the employee in place (such as a bonus plan, a 401k, a benefits package, or a non-compete), review those to make sure you comply with all of the requirements under these agreements. Venn Law Group can help you understand your obligations in this area.
  • Please review your company policies on accrued paid-time-off to ensure that you comply with those policies in the employee’s final paycheck.
  • If the employee is to be paid any commissions, bonuses, or other compensation that may accrue and be paid following termination, those must be paid on the next regularly scheduled pay period once those amounts can be calculated.
  • If you want to pay the employee any form of severance, please work with the experienced employment lawyers at Venn Law Group to prepare a severance agreement that includes a release from the employee.