Terminations are among the most difficult things a manager has to do, but this may become necessary for a variety of reasons: performance issues, changes in job requirements, company downsizing, etc.  It is never easy, but things will go more smoothly if the manager is prepared.

It is important to know the employee’s entitlements under Employment Standards as well as the company’s potential liability at Common LawUsing this information, prepare (or have legal counsel prepare) a letter to the employee that clearly states the situation, and that outlines any notice period, or the terms of payment in lieu of notice.  Notice is not required when the employer has just cause to dismiss, but just cause is often difficult to prove, and legal advice is definitely recommended.

If there are other employees, or if the person deals with customers or suppliers, it is important to decide how these people will be informed.  They don’t require details: just a short message advising that X is leaving the company effective on this date, and until further notice, contact Y for any business issues.  Other employees will have various reactions to the news, and it is important to have a plan for dealing with their concerns. 

The termination meeting is recognized as being stressful for the employee, but many people do not realize, until faced with it, how stressful it can be for the manager.  If at all possible, it is best to have a second person present – usually the H.R. Manager if there is one.  Then, the manager need only give the employee the bad news, and leave the room, allowing the second person, who is less personally involved, to deal with the employee’s questions, emotions, and concerns.  In the absence of an H.R. Manager, there are outplacement companies or consultants who provide a range of services, from consulting with the manager and attending the termination meeting, to providing career transitioning assistance for the employee.

Contents © Human Resources by Pam Urie
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