Case Study – How Do You Let an Employee Go?


Every business owner has had to assess an employee and has made the decision that the employee, for whatever reason, should be let go. Obviously, there are good ways to do this and not so good ways of doing this. I have had to do this several times in my employer history and I never enjoyed the experience. However, I have learned several things that need to be considered when this decision is made.


1. Employees either are let go for cause or for economic reasons.
2. Employees can file for unemployment after being let go from their positions.
3. Employers need to have proper documentation for the reasons an employee has been let go.
4. Make sure your employee handbook has an escalating level of consequences for infractions of the rules.
5. Do not delay the letting go process. This stresses out the employer and the employee always knows something is up. You do not have to wait until Friday afternoon (a common practice) to let an employee go.
6. Your unemployment tax rates may increase.

Once the decision has been made by the employer to let an employee go, act on it quickly. Bad news never gets better with age and thinking about this over a long period of time is not good for anyone. If you have an HR department, or have an HR service you are using, let them do all of the talking and documenting. The actual final discussion should go something like this:

a. State that the business will no longer support the employee being on staff. Do not get personal.
b. State that if there has been an infraction of the employee handbook what the infraction is and the consequences of this infraction.
c. If the employee is being fired for cause they can still apply for unemployment payments. You cannot stop nor can you imply that unemployment will not be paid because of infractions by the employee.
d. Do not let the conversation get into a shouting match or allow accusations to fly around the room. Take the high road and always be the professional.
e. Keep the time for this conversation to a minimum.
f. Have a witness there to confirm the actual conversation on both sides just in case.

It seems that most employers are having these issues now and need this information. If you find yourself in an unfortunate position where you need to let an employee go, and could use guidance and support through the process, ASBC is here to help.

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