When terminating an employee, I often see small employers provide a termination letter listing reasons for the firing and a final paycheck.

First, get rid of the termination letter. While I do like to make sure the employee understands the reason(s) he’s being fired, I don’t like to put it into writing. Whenever something is in writing, you take a chance it could be used against you if misinterpreted or badly written. Why put yourself in that position?

When an employee terminates for any reason, voluntary or involuntary, provide exactly the same documents:

• The required Change in Relationship form,
• The required Unemployment Booklet,
• The required HIPP (Health Insurance Premium Payment Program) Notice,
• The final paycheck, including any accrued unused vacation or PTO, and
• The wage statement (formerly known as a pay stub) detailing each and every deduction on the final paycheck.

Hopefully, this termination isn’t a surprise… otherwise, it shows the manager didn’t do their job of informing the employee about the seriousness of the problem. Make sure they know their job is on the line.

As a rule, keep your reasons for the termination short, legal and verbal. There’s no reason to go on and on about how badly the employee performed; he’s already being fired, don’t make him feel even worse.

About Your Columnist

CJ Westrick is a featured columnist for Women Taking Charge, the official blog of Connected Women of Influence, where she covers all things human resources and managing people in the workplace. CJ Westrick, SPHR, has been in human resources (HR) management for over 20 years and has maintained her SPHR (Senior Professional in Human Resources) national certification since 2002. She started HR Jungle, a human resources consulting firm, in 2006 to provide senior-level HR expertise to businesses without internal HR.

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