Best Practices for Firing Employees

When people talk about the worst parts of running a business, employee termination is often at the top of the list. Attracting the right talent, training your current workforce, and retaining good employees is where most employers want to focus their attention.  Unfortunately, as businesses grow, an involuntary employee termination is inevitable.  By the time employers come to see us, the employer/employee relationship has significantly deteriorated, and it may be “too late” to carry out the best practices for smooth, inexpensive employee termination. However, starting the relationship right can help make the end a bit less tumultuous.

A successful employee termination begins before you even hire the employee.  Do you have good company policies incorporated into an employee handbook for the employee to sign?  An effective employee handbook contains set expectations and progressive discipline policies for employee and employer to follow.  A withholding agreement may allow you to deduct certain costs from your employee’s last paycheck, and a policy on commissions may protect you from having to pay out commissions following termination. Do you need an employment contract?  Certain types of employees, such as those with access to client lists you do not want to be shared, may benefit from an employment contract setting out benefits and restricting the employee’s use of confidential information, or even offering severance under certain conditions.  Once you hire the employee and proper on-boarding documents are signed, the best strategy is to tackle employee problems immediately and intentionally. 

You may have heard documentation is essential, and it is, but smart documentation is also better.   Be specific and thorough when documenting employee misconduct.  Instead of employee self-evaluations, supervisors should evaluate honestly.  Moreover, go with your gut.  If an employee commits misconduct and your gut tells you the situation is not going to get better, it is better to terminate immediately for that instance of misconduct rather than later.  It saves you time and money and is more likely to result in a favorable result with the Texas Workforce Commission. 

Rosenblatt Law Firm is experienced in counseling businesses with proactive, headache-saving employment policies and procedures and would be glad to discuss your unique labor force.