Tips for Dismissal and Layoffs

Consider these tips when you are planning a termination interview.

  • Make sure that your reason for termination is sound, that you have minimized your liability for the decision, and that appropriate documentation is in order. If you are not sure, speak to your human resource consultant or your employment attorney. Make sure you are in compliance with federal and state WARN laws, if applicable.
  • Plan what you want to communicate and stick to your plan. Be brief.
  • Deliver your message immediately. Do not "beat around the bush" leading up to the message.
  • Be honest about the reason the person's employment is being terminated. Giving false information to protect someone's feelings can backlash when you have to provide truthful information (for example, to your state's unemployment claims area.) Putting the reason for separation in writing is not recommended.
  • Expect a reaction. Wait respectfully.
  • Be prepared to provide information about final day on payroll, the status of benefit programs upon termination, any severance pay or separation allowances that may be granted, etc. Provide the information verbally, but give as much as possible in writing. If your employee is not expecting a separation, he or she will not be well positioned to hear and retain the information you are giving. Make sure the written information includes a telephone number for questions.
  • Find a place to conduct your discussion that is private.
  • You owe your employee a dignified exit. It is not necessary to frog-march an employee off your premises. If you are concerned about access to your systems, arrange to have the employee's access disconnected while you are conducting the separation interview. In general, it is appropriate to escort the person off the premises if you want to control access to your workplace after separation; if you are doing only one separation, consider escorting the person yourself. If you are laying off an employee due to a business downturn, do not promise to rehire.
  • If you are separating multiple employees within a short time frame, make sure that your separations doe not disproportionately effect protected groups.
  • Document the discussion.
  • Be prepared for questions from your remaining staff.