Many businesses have been forced to downsize due to COVID-19. Whether it be through reductions in hours, temporary layoffs, or terminations, employers have faced more uncomfortable conversations than they may have previously been accustomed to.
This article provides some tips for employers on how to carry out a termination of employment and suggests ways to ensure the process goes smoothly.
Be empathetic and honest
When terminating employment, especially due to unforeseen circumstances such as a pandemic, it is important to be empathetic while remaining professional.
If an employer lacks empathy and approaches the termination too harshly, the employee may feel as if their service to the company is underappreciated.
It may result in the employee becoming upset and even vengeful. The employee may then spread negative information about the company. They may be less likely to accept a termination package, and more likely to start a legal claim.
While being empathetic is important, it is also essential to be honest with the employee. Although not required by law, giving the employee a reason for their termination often aids in acceptance. It helps them exit on better terms and gives them an idea of how to improve in their career going forward.
You could keep the conversation honest by reminding employees of previous warnings. Let them know that they’ve not quite met the terms of a performance improvement plan.
Or if the layoff is due to financial reasons, simply tell them that the company is downsizing or reorganizing.
But your approach may be different if the employee is being terminated for just cause. If they have harmed the company or its employees, the manner of terminating employment may be more straight forward and to the point.
Provide a reference
When an employee is terminated, one of the first things that goes through their mind is the worry and anxiety of having to find another job.
To end the termination meeting on a positive note, you can give the employee some advice about the current job market and their future job search.
You could also offer to provide them a letter of reference. This will be a great way to help them secure another position.
Reference checks are almost always conducted when applying for jobs. When you offer to give a glowing recommendation, it will likely cause the employee to feel more confident when leaving the meeting.
Offer a fair package and release
If you are terminating employment without cause, there are several things to consider when creating a termination package. Does the employee have an employment contract? Does the contract contain a termination clause? Is the clause valid? Does the contract state a fixed amount the employee will receive upon termination?
While different answers will result in varying recommendations, it is helpful to examine the situation of a terminated employee who has an employment contract that contains a termination clause.
In these circumstances, many employers opt to provide the employee with their legal minimums under the employment standards legislation and no more.
This course of action could result in the employee feeling unsatisfied and may cause them to take action for wrongful dismissal.
For your own peace of mind, it is often advised that you provide the employee with a payment greater than their legislated entitlements and offer a full and final release for the employee to sign in return.
This way, the employee wins by receiving a larger package that will give them time to secure a new position, and the company gains by barring the ex-employee from pursuing legal action.
Do you need advice on terminating employees?
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