Termination: 12 Easy Steps to Follow

Termination: 12 Easy Steps to Follow. It is easy to make a mistake that may open you up to costly legal risks.

So, you have to terminate an employee…

Some employers do this often and know just how to manage the process. Others employers could refer to these steps.  Most terminations and voluntary separations are similar. Involuntary separations happen when the employer terminates the employee’s employment.  This process may be a layoff, reduction in force, or a discharge.

The simple days of terminating an employee at-will, are not so simple anymore.  It takes some planning to comply with MA and Federal laws and to protect your company from legal consequences.

As an experienced HR Professional, I wish to offer you some guidance on this matter. Here is Termination: 12 easy steps to follow . . .

  1. Review documentation surrounding the reason you wish to terminate the employee.  I suggest you list the strengths and weaknesses of this documentation to help influence your decision to terminate.
  2. Be sure to contact your IT Service Provider to hand the account shut down before the termination meeting.  Do not give your terminated employee the opportunity to sabotage your business or offer any trade secrets.
  3. Have a paycheck in hand, ready to pay out all outstanding wages plus any earned vacation time on the day of termination.  Refer to MGL ch. 149, § 148 or contact the Attorney General’s office for guidance.
  4. For voluntary terminations, you may pay the employee his/her final paycheck on the date of your next payroll run. If you are unable to process a check on the same day, pay the employee through the next day to be sure you can get a check in hand before the final separation.
  5. For exempt, salaried employees, it is typical to pay the full week.  However, the Fair Labor Standards Act allows you to pay a proportionate part of his/her week’s wages for the final week of work.
  6. If you offer paid time off instead of vacation time, refer to your policy manual which explains how earned vacation time will be calculated upon termination of employment. If you do not have a well-documented policy, you should be prepared to pay the entire PTO leave to a terminated employee.
  7. You should have a clear policy on any pay advances and them method that will be used to recoup losses from the final paycheck.  If you do not have a policy in writing, it is likey to invite non-payment of wage claims.
  8. The employer must furnish any separating employee a DUA Form 590-A which explains to the employee that the are eligible to file for unemployment compensation benefits, within 30 days from the last date of paid work performed.  If you fail to present this form to an employee, there claims for unemployment insurance will be backdated to the time of their initial eligibility.
  9. Terminated employees in business with more than 20 employees must offer COBRA which is the continuation of health care, and dental to the covered employees and dependents.  Termination of employment is among the qualifying events that allow an employee to continue coverage for up to 18 months.
  10. There are no laws requiring employers to pay severance benefits.  An employer may elect to do so through a termination agreement known as a release of claims.  Using a release may make sense.  Contact your Employment Attorney for guidelines.
  11. While Massachusetts is an at-will state, some company’s chose to use a non-compete agreement or non-disclosure agreement.  Remind the terminating employee of this agreement and take action is you become aware of any violations.
  12. Finally, Massachusetts law requires employers to retain separated employee’s personnel records for three years from the date of separation.  I-9, Immigration forms must be retained for one-year from the date of separation or three years from the date of hire, whichever is the later.

If you need additional assistance with the termination process, Dube Consulting is here for you! Let us know how we can work together to make this process as painless as possible.

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