How to Terminate an Employee Safely and with Confidence

Terminations. The word alone makes most dentists or office managers feel a bit queasy. It’s one of the least pleasant things you have to do as an employer, not to mention one of the riskiest. Lawsuits stemming from terminations have been on the rise for the last ten years across the country. You need to know how to approach a termination safely in order to limit the risk you face.

And that’s exactly what we will cover during CEDR HR Solutions’ upcoming webinar, This is Your Exit: A Step-by-Step Guide to Terminating an Employee, on Tuesday, June 13 at 4 p.m. PDT. If you’d like to learn how to fire safely and with less fear, sign up and we’ll see you there!

Want the Cliff’s notes first? Don’t go into any termination unprepared. Here are just a few of the steps in a successful termination process:

  • Have up-to-date HR policies and management practices in place (and acknowledged by your employees) from the get-go. Most terminations should come as no surprise, because your entire team should already be aware of your expectations.
  • Know what protected-class or protected-status issues apply. Protected classes include race, religion, ethnic origin, age, pregnancy, veteran status, and many others. Protected activities include actions such as complaining about wages, reporting workplace harassment, filing for workers’ comp, and, again, many others. As you can imagine, most people fall into one or more protected classes or statuses!
  • Make sure your documentation is in order. Contrary to popular lore, it is best to state your (lawful) reason when you terminate... and have the documentation to back it up! If you don’t, a disgruntled ex-employee (or their attorney) is more likely to make up an unlawful reason—usually involving discrimination or retaliation related to a protected class or status.
  • Be ready for the termination meeting. Hold this meeting at the end or very beginning of the day—when no other employees or patients are around—and bring the termination letter (briefly stating your lawful reason), the ex-employee’s final paycheck (never hold on to this!), and a copy of your practice’s exit interview form with self-addressed envelope for them to mail back. It’s important that you make a documented attempt to collect their side of the story.
  • Keep things brief. Don’t get drawn into defensiveness or emotion, and have a witness if possible. Have the employee escorted at the end of the meeting, as they depart the premises.

Again, the steps you take each time you terminate can usually determine whether end of employment is a small, dignified event where everybody can move on smoothly, or a blowup with costly consequences. To learn more about evaluating termination decisions, what to say and what not to say, and how to avoid the most costly termination mistakes, be sure to attend our webinar: This is Your Exit: A Step-by-Step Guide to Terminating an Employee, on Tuesday, June 13 at 4 p.m. PDT.

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