Have a Protocol for Releasing Employees


Growing the team is one of the best aspects of a small business. You’ve worked hard, business is good, and you get to hire people that respect, understand, and want to further your vision.

But it doesn’t always work out.

The drawback of growing to a position of hiring is that you are also in a position to fire – and it’s never easy.

 Whatever the reason you have for releasing an employee, you must have a protocol in place.

Sometimes the reasons for releasing an employee are clear cut. For example, theft and abuse should not be tolerated under any circumstances. Other times it’s not as clear. You could have a very productive person on your team… that seldom shows up. Perhaps its an eager young recruit that that is way over his or her head. Perhaps it’s the firm go-getter that just doesn’t mesh well with team.

Record Your Reasons

If a problem is slowing growing, recorded the incidences and have frank and honest discussions with the employee about what is going on.Both of you should sign a document outlining the date the discussion took place, the nature of the problem, the steps that will be taken to correct it and the outcome should the behaviour continue.

Documenting the behaviour gives the employee a chance to change, gives you time to understand the situation, and protects both of you should the firing turn into an unlawful dismissal case.

You can find free employee write up templates online.

Time to Say Goodbye

When all chances are exhausted and its time to say goodbye,you have some legal obligations as the employer. You must issue a Record of Employment (ROE) and a T4 summary. You may also have to provide notice,pay in lieu of notice, or severance.

Obligations differ among provinces and among private and federally regulated workplaces. See Canada Revenue Agency’s website for information in this regard.

Releasing an Employee is Not the End of the Situation

Releasing an employee may sound like a simple way to take care of a problem, but that is far from the end of things. Other team members may not agree with your decision or may not be privy to information you knew about the situation. While you are under no obligation to share confidential information,you should be aware of how the firing will affect the rest of the team.

Beloved employees that are fired can make other team members question their place in your company. Now is a good time to review your workplace policies and remind the team what is expected of them. Have one-on-one conversations with those that are worried, if required.

 If the employee was problematic, there may be some rejoicing among your team; remember to humanize the situation. Regardless of the employee’s behaviour, that person is now out of a job. Encourage respect for that person and their future. Discourage gossip and badmouthing.

It Comes Down to Due Diligence

Never expect that you can simply release an employee without warning, then walk away like nothing ever happened. Releasing an employee is a serious step that affects your entire workplace. It’s a process that starts with warnings, involves legal paperwork, and requires you to lead the team forward after it happens.

Hiring and not firing? Here’s how to stay compliant with Revenu Québec.

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