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HR Advice – 7 Tips to Manage Employee Termination Effectively

Employee Termination: Is it time to let go?

It doesn’t matter what type of business you run, employee termination is one of the most difficult tasks to take on. Although it may be difficult, it is crucial that as an employer, you are professional and compliant. When it’s time to let go of an employee, it’s important that you understand how to do so properly.

Ontario’s Labour Law on Employee Termination

The Ministry of Labour clearly outlines the rules around termination and severance for employers. Under the definition for “termination of employment” in the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA), the Ministry describes the situation in reference to alike terms. This includes language used for an employee to be “let go”, “fired”, “dismissed”, “discharged”, or “permanently laid off”. In the case of an employee dismissal, your staff have the right to be notified in advance if they’ve worked with your business for at least three months. The amount of notice required depends on the length of employment. When termination occurs, the Ministry states that in most cases, the notification of dismissal must be:

  • in writing
  • addressed to the employee
  • provided to the employee:
    • in person
    • by mail, fax or email
    • by courier
    • in a sealed envelope at the employee’s residence with a person who appears to be at least 16 years old

With the possible pitfalls of some of the approved delivery methods, it is ideal to provide the notification in person.

7 Tips to Manage Employee Termination Effectively

Although there is no sure-fire way to terminate an employee, there are some HR best practices you can follow. As an employer, you should:

  1. Be Respectful – It is important for you to protect the reputation of your business when letting go of an employee. The way you handle terminations will influence the success of your recruitment and hiring efforts.
  2. Be Discreet – Make sure the dismissal is private and confidential. No other employees should hear about the termination prior to it occurring, and, while you should meet with your employees after it happens, the details of the dismissal should not be shared.
  3. Be Brief – The shorter the termination meeting, the better. Cover all of the points that you need to address and be clear and concise in doing so.
  4. Be Honest – While the Ministry of Labour does not require most provincially-regulated employers to give an explanation for a dismissal without cause, you can offer a few reasons without referencing personal issues or your employee’s character. A practical explanation helps to ease the employee and alleviate negative reactions.
  5. Have a Witness – To prevent unnecessary legal headaches, you should have a witness from Human Resources be present. If you don’t have an HR department, you can ask someone from your senior management team to sit in and take notes.
  6. Prepare an Exit Interview – When the news of termination settles, you should provide an anonymous exit survey or do an exit interview when dealing with employee termination. This helps you to determine whether discrimination, harassment or a failure to accommodate were factors in the dismissal.
  7. Not Terminate on the Spot – If the employee termination is due to poor performance, it should not come as a complete shock to them. Make sure to keep records of performance reviews and show that you’ve given them opportunities to improve. If there are accusations of serious misconduct, you can suspend the employee pending an investigation into the issue before making any termination decisions.

If you don’t have an HR team to consult about employee termination, Here’s Why Outsourcing HR is a Good Business Decision.