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  Oracle Tips by Burleson

Firing the Employee

The action of firing an employee for serious violations may occur immediately and avoid the progressive discipline  process. For violations that are not severe enough to require immediate dismissal, the termination may still follow the process of progressive discipline if the undesirable behavior or performance is not remedied. 

Only the employee’s direct manager, any witnesses, and the employee to be released should be in attendance at the termination meeting . Employment law does not require witnesses to be present, but it is a good idea to be prudent in holding a higher standard. Having a witness at the termination meeting can provide additional support for the employer if a lawsuit is later filed by the employee.  

Knowledge of the impending termination should be known only by the direct manager, the IS director, the employee, witnesses, and the Human Resources department. Any other individuals having knowledge of these proceedings can have numerous negative consequences including the triggering of retaliatory actions by the offending employee causing disruption within the IS organization, and undermining the employer’s perceived integrity.  

The best time to actually present the termination notice is earlier in the day and week. In the past, many employers would fire an individual on a Friday because it seemed like a logical time to separate at the end of the work week. Firing an employee at the end of the work week tends to have a greater negative impact on the individual, who is then more prone to unpredictable behavior.  

When the manager, employee, and possibly a witness are present at the discharge meeting, the manager should proceed in a very direct and precise manner. The employee should be told they are being terminated as of today and indicate the reason for the termination. The IT manager should have made prior preparation in his or her mind for what will be said. An inexperienced manager may become anxious about performing the dismissal and some have their minds go blank during these proceedings.  

If the manager fumbles for words, the simplest way to perform the dismissal is to say ‘You’re Fired!’ There are no more direct or meaningful words than those.  Review the warnings that were previously given and any opportunities that the employee may have had to improve but did not. If the undesirable behavior is one that requires immediate dismissal versus a progressive discipline  firing, then obviously previous warnings or opportunities for improvement will not exist.  

In some situations, companies allow employees to resign their job instead of being fired. This may be done with the intention of saving the individual embarrassment and hardship with future job applications. Nonetheless, the ‘choice’ of being fired or resigning from the job results in employment termination and accomplishes the task at hand.  

Employees are not entitled to termination notice for firings under at-will employment  and for just cause. Notice usually applies to mass layoffs that are planned and for which employees are being released for business reasons. These business reasons may entail the elimination of a job position or function. The IT manager should explain to the employee that they will be paid for any monies due regarding vacation days, etc. There are states that require the employer to present the employee with his or her final paycheck as well as payment for unused vacation at the time of dismissal. Failure to comply may result in the imposition of penalties on the employer.  

Terminated employees may qualify for severance pay  when:

  • They have been employed for 12 consecutive months.

  • Employment has ended.

However, severance pay is not an entitlement if the IT employee:

  • Was fired for just cause.

  • Quit his or her job.

Regardless of entitlement, employers should consider providing severance pay anyway under specific situations to soften the impact on the employee of the firing, and perhaps to obtain a release from future legal claims.

During the termination meeting , the manager should make clear that the employee should leave the company premises on the same day (usually within one hour of being fired), and that they may collect their personal belongings. They may also be given the option of having their personal items mailed to them.

Throughout the termination meeting, the manager should afford all respect and dignity to the employee. He or she should also remain firmly resolved to complete the task of dismissal. If the employee attempts to derail the termination dialogue and throw the manager off track, the manager must stay focused on completing the mission.

The witness, if present, should not engage in dialogue unless that person is the Human Resources  representative and has been assigned the task of explaining the disposition of termination benefits. The role of most witnesses is solely to listen to the proceedings and to corroborate testimony as a safeguard against possible future litigation for wrongful termination .

All company property such as the employee badge, keys, pagers, cell phones, and personal computers need to be recovered from the employee at exit time. Most of these items are available on the work premises, although it may be necessary for the manager to follow the employee home to retrieve a personal computer for example. A predefined checklist of items to collect upon employee exit will ensure that all property is accounted for. The IT employee’s computer system access must be revoked immediately, and passwords for other general access accounts changed.

See Figure 4.4 for a Sample Employment Termination form This form should be reviewed and approved by an attorney concerning all possible legalities.

The above book excerpt is from:

You're Fired! Firing Computer Professionals

The IT manager Guide for Terminating "With Cause"

ISBN 0-9744486-4-8

Robert Papaj


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