The decision to terminate an employee is never an easy one for employers. Before the actual termination, the employer must go through steps to ensure that the employee has had the opportunity to improve their work performance.

Mandy Ayers, owner of The HR Generalist Store in Black Earth is a resource for small businesses that don't have their own human resources departments. Ayers assists business owners with recruiting, interviewing, training, orientations, terminations, benefits, compensation and job descriptions. She responded to questions about what employers need to do before, during and after a termination.

Q: An employee has been working at a company for 10 years, but his work has never been stellar and he keeps getting passed from one manager to another. No one has taken the time to help him improve. His most recent manager has decided to end his employment. What steps must the manager take in order to terminate him?

A: Documentation is the simplest step an employer can perform and it provides a defense should litigation be brought against the company. Performance that does not meet standards should have been discussed with the employee at the time of the occurrence. An employer can do this by verbal or written warnings and establishing an action plan for the employee to correct the action immediately. Employers should conduct employee performance appraisals yearly as they are another avenue of documentation that can highlight positive and/or negative performances by an employee.

Q: What are some reasons to terminate an employee?

A: Theft, workplace violence, sexual harassment, performance, attendance, quality of work and/or insubordination. Depending on the misconduct of the employee, the employer needs to determine the corrective action in direct correlation to an incident.

Q: Who should be present when an employee is terminated?

A: The manager and human resources professional, or at least one other witness at management level. Both should be prepared to document the meeting immediately following the termination.

Q: What are the ramifications of termination that employers should consider?

A: Employers are mindful of the effects the termination will have on the employee and the rest of the staff. Terminations are costly to an employer; recruiting, training, position down time and unemployment rates are reasons why an employer would be better served working with an employee first before termination.


Small Business Tips appears on the fourth Tuesday of the month. To suggest a topic an expert, contact Jill Carlson at


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