Guide to Navigating the Process of Terminating an Employee or Contractor

According to Zippia, the average cost to hire an employee is $4,700, and most companies spend between 36 and 42 days searching for the right person to fill a position. The monetary cost and time investment of filling open positions make many businesses reluctant to terminate relationships with unproductive employees and contractors; however, sometimes it is necessary. If you need to let an employee go, the following advice from the Calhoun County Area Chamber of Commerce will make the process easier for everyone involved.


Reasons You May Need to Terminate an Employee

Sometimes, businesses need to let employees or contractors go because of economic reasons or because a job function has become obsolete. Other times, serious violations of company policy, such as sexual harassment, violence, bullying, or on-the-clock drug or alcohol use may necessitate a termination.


You may need to part ways with an employee or contractor who behaves unethically or damages, misuses, or steals company property. You may discover that employees have been dishonest on a job application or resume. You may need to fire an employee who is chronically late or absent or performs poorly even after being given an opportunity to improve. Finally, some employees are just not a good fit for the company culture or do not get along well with the rest of your team.


When to Terminate an Employee or Contractor

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, if you are considering firing employees or contractors because of poor attendance or performance, it is a good idea to give them a chance to improve first. Give them a time frame and then reevaluate their performance. If the employees do not improve in the given time frame, then you may need to let them go. However, if you are dealing with a serious violation of ethics or company policy, you may need to terminate an employee immediately.


If a contractor does not fulfill the services specified in a legally enforceable contract, you may be able to get compensation for breach of contract. Consult with an attorney to determine if you have a case, since moving forward can also put you at risk if there is any evidence that you contributed to the problem or also did not uphold your contract.


Protecting Your Business

Terminating an employee can have legal ramifications and pose a safety or security risk if the employee doesn't take it well. Make sure you have all of your documentation in order before terminating an employee. You can use a PDF extraction tool to combine multiple PDFs into a single document to make it easier to organize your documentation. Use the tool to select the pages you need from each PDF, and then create a new PDF that contains all the relevant records. You can also use a tool that allows you to delete pages in a PDF if you need to trim files to clean them up and make them easier to send via email.


Consult with an employment attorney to ensure you are not violating the law in any way. Choose a private location where you will not be disrupting business. Document the entire process. Have a human resources representative at the meeting to ensure you are not alone if the employee reacts badly. Have someone ready to escort the employee out of the building and be sure to collect any keys, IDs, or security cards they have. 


Having the Conversation

Telling an employee they are fired is an unpleasant experience for most managers. Ideally, your employee should be expecting the termination because you have been providing feedback and documentation in the months leading up to it. Schedule a private meeting with the employee, or if they are a remote employee, schedule a video call. Explain the reasons you are terminating them. If you are terminating employees on good terms, offer to help them find new employment. Be discreet and professional.


Use Tact but Be Prepared

Terminating an employee or contractor can be a stressful and emotional process for everyone involved. The better you prepare, the less stressful it is likely to be. Make sure that you document your reason clearly to avoid miscommunication and minimize legal risk. You may want to seek legal counsel if you will accuse the employee of breach of contract, so be cautious. In the end, be as kind as possible during the process, as it is difficult for everyone involved.