Managers Guide to Terminating an Employee

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Terminating an employee is not easy, no matter how many times you may do it.

But you’ve decided that it’s time to let someone go. Hopefully you’ve documented everything just in case the individual decides to sue — and of course, there are significant differences in Canada and the US when it comes to terminating an individual.

Regardless of where you’re located, hopefully you have consulted with your HR department and everything has been checked, and double-checked.

In Canada at least, ensure you’ve given the individual sufficient severance. Go above and beyond – but remember that doesn’t guarantee a suit or complaint to Human Rights, or Labor Standards.

In Canada quite a bit needs to be taken into account: age of the employee, what they are doing, current market conditions for a similar position – these are just three things to consider. Frequently employers will go above statutory requirements, providing what is common law. Depending on the individual it can range widely but providing up to 1-year (or more in some cases) of severance + benefits is not unheard of.

Once you’ve figured everything out, and if your HR isn’t going to be doing the actual termination – JUST DO IT. Seriously, it’s easier to get it done then allow yourself to deflate/de-stress or whatever you need to do.

Whether this is your first, or you’ve done hundreds it doesn’t get easier (in my opinion).

The actual termination should be quick. You’re there to tell the individual that their job is gone. Be respectful of the individual, this isn’t the time to bring up anything. The actual discussion shouldn’t take more than 5 or 10 minutes (even 10-minutes might be too long).

This is going to be a shock to them — actually, it should not. If as a manager you’ve done your job properly terminating an employee should never be a shock to them. Hopefully you and HR have tried to bring the employee around — it is expensive to terminate.

Typically once the discussion is complete, HR may step in to talk about the termination papers.

Escort the individual to their desk, let them get what their personal belongings (only do this if you are certain that they will not create a scene – otherwise have someone get their personal belongings OR you could have them come back after most employees have left) and then show them out. Be respectful of the individual!

The termination process is difficult, not only the act of terminating the employee but dealing with the aftermath (questions from other employees, the rumor mill). You’re not just terminating an employee, but an individual who may have tied their worth and self to that job and title and you’ve just taken it away from them. Hopefully everything has been done to salvage the relationship.

Just remember, be respectful through the entire process.