Compliance Partner General Terminating an Em...
Terminating an Employee? Stay Safe
By Michelle Higgins

Terminating an employee and worrying about workplace violence as a result are concerns in today’s world. Those working in HR must consider the safest ways to terminate an employee.

What is the best (safest) way to terminate someone?

There’s no easy answer about the best way to terminate an employee. Terminations are hard; emotions can escalate quickly.
While none of the tips listed in this article guarantee anyone’s safety, when terminating an employee employers must instead focus their efforts on:
  • Mitigating the risk of violence,
  • Protecting employees from harm, and
  • Protecting the company.
The following five tips may be useful when terminating an employee:
  1. Terminate remotely. It might seem cold-hearted to discharge an employee remotely. But more companies are considering this step to enhance safety.
  2. Do not give an employee a “heads up.” Companies often have a disciplinary process based on company policy, and that’s okay (even needed). An employee, therefore, might have a clue that they are at risk of being terminated. However, employers should not give the employee advance notice of the termination. And employers should never dangle the threat of termination in front of an employee or make veiled termination threats to get the employee to improve job performance.
  3. Do not let the employee return to a desk or remain on the property. When terminating an employee in person, instruct the employee to leave immediately after. Ensure them that their belongings will be shipped to them in a timely fashion. Under no circumstances should they return to their workstation. A supervisor could gather up and bring the employee any necessities, such as a coat, purse, cell phone, or car keys.
  4. Inform security or the police. Whenever there is concern about the potential of an employee having an outburst, exploding into a violent reaction, or refusing to leave after being terminated, have on-site security nearby or ask local law enforcement to be available. This is especially important if the employer suspects an employee of having a weapon in their vehicle.
  5. Walk the employee out of the building with security. To ensure the terminated employee leaves the premises and doesn’t re-enter the building another way, escort them out. An employer should not do this alone. The employer should watch the employee as they get into their vehicle (or another form of transportation) so that unsuspecting coworkers don’t cross paths with the terminated employee and, perhaps, get into a dispute since emotions would likely be high.
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