Terminating an Employee

Audra Becker - CMA

Director of HR Consulting

Checklist: Questions to ask yourself before terminating an employee

1.     Do we have a legitimate reason?

2.     Should be investigate first?

3.     Does the worker’s personnel file support the reasons for firing?

4.     Have we followed company policy?

5.     Does the worker have a contract?

6.     Would the termination be consistent with the way the company has handled similar problems?

7.     Is this worker likely to sue?

8.     If there an alternative to firing?

9.     If the termination decision impartial and fair?

10.  Should we talk to a HR consultant or lawyer?

Legal Do’s and Don’ts: Terminating Employees


1.     Document Everything…I can’t say it enough you should always have a documented trail to support the reason(s) for termination

2.     Consider your decision carefully…are your reasons to terminate legitimate, do you have all the facts, did you follow policy or past practice, ask yourself should I consult an expert? Taking the time now may save your company money and a lot of time down the road.

3.     Terminate only for good cause. Terminating an at-will employee does not mean it is legal. If you terminate only for legitimate business reasons, you give workers an incentive to perform well and follow workplace policy this will also give your organization a reputation for being fair and reasonable which will help fighting off wrongful termination lawsuits.


1.     Treat fired employees like criminals. Dignity and poise are two words that I remind all managers to use during these difficult meetings. Remain poised and treat the employee with dignity. Also, unless you have legitimate concerns give your employee the time too gather their thoughts and emotions and let them exit your company with self-respect. A hand shake should be offered.

2.     Take workers by surprise. A termination should not come as a complete surprise they employee should have been on notice that their performance/actions were unsatisfactory.

3.     Postpone the inevitable, once the determination for termination has been made whether it is due to fit, performance, or policy, you  have verification that the documentation is in place, and an action plan for the terminated employees responsibilities, do not postpone


Checklist: Things to do before the termination meeting

1.     Don’t be hasty; one last review of the employee file to ensure that all proper disciplinary measures have been taken.

2.     Determine who else needs to know about the termination and inform them

3.     Choose someone (if not you) to conduct the termination meeting

4.     Make sure that the person who conducts the termination is familiar with the employee’s personnel file and benefit status

5.     Inform the payroll/accounting staff to drop the employee from payroll and find out when the employees last check will be mailed and issue any outstanding expense reimbursements

6.     Plan an exit interview; use this information to get the next “fit” correct.

7.     Decide whether the employee will be offered a severance package.

8.     If the employee had access to confidential information, take steps to make sure that the employee understand his or her obligation to keep that information secret.

9.     Create an action plan for handing off the employee’s current projects.

10.   Identify someone to handle any email or mail that comes for the employee after his/her departure.

11.  Decide how the company will handle calls from prospective employers seeking a reference for the employee.

12.  Decide what you will tell coworkers about the departure.

13.  If you think the employee might turn violent, arrange for security personnel and an escort for the employee.

14.  Make arrangements to have the employee’s password and computer privileges turned off.

15.  If the employee has an assigned parking space, remove the employee’s name from the list and reassign the space.

16.  Cancel the employee’s company credit cards or any other company perks.

17.  Collect company property from the employee.

18.  Remove the employee’s name from the company lists, company memos, routing slips, email lists, and telephone rosters.





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Kevin M. Healey

Kennebec Savings Bank has used many services provided by CMA. Executive recruitment, career counseling for employees, AAP support and Human Resources consultation. I am pleased with the quality of their work and I don’t hesitate to recommend their services to other HR professionals. CMA is Maine’s “home Town” team when it comes to providing professional HR services.

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CMA is my go to HR advisor when we need extra hands, eyes or minds to work on an employment related situation or project. I work with CMA in a highly collaborative partnership – we look at our organization’s vision and strategic plan, create a plan that is aligned and customized. I trust the team and am very satisfied with the work and results!

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CMA is a fabulous trainer: knowledgeable, energetic, and practical! They delivered communication skills training to 30 of our hotel department managers, and the feedback we received was terrific. We certainly will request them back again.

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