Human Resources

How To Properly Terminate An Employee – Blog Series Pt.7

Hey Compliance Warriors!

We’ll be discussing part seven of our employee termination series. This is an important part of post-termination that should be handled pre-termination. Security risks, amongst other things, need to be considered before the termination discussion is held.

“It isn’t making mistakes that’s critical. It’s correcting them and getting on with the principal task.”
   -Donald Rumsfeld

Part Seven: What an Employment Termination Checklist Should Contain
   One of the most helpful tools when preparing to fire an employee is the use of a termination checklist, which is usually covered during a termination meeting.  This list helps the employee to thoroughly cover any loose ends before the employee is let go, such as returning keys or badges, alerting human resources of the change, and deleting the employee’s access to the system.  Without the checklist, the manager may forget one of these items, which would be bad for the company, as well as the terminated employee.

Notification to Human Resources
   As soon as it has been determined that an employee will be terminated, the manager should notify human resources.  Notifying human resources allows the manager to consult with any legal counsel if needed, gather information regarding remaining employee benefits (such as final paychecks, vacation time, etc.) and schedule a time in which a representative can be present during the termination meeting.  Also, this will get the ball rolling on ‘cleanup’ after the employee is gone, such as deleting them from the company system, stopping any form of payroll, and notifying any outside benefit companies (insurance, retirement, etc.) that the employee is no longer part of the company.

Systems Access Terminations
   As soon as it is determined that an employee will be terminated, the manager should also notify the company’s network administrator or director of information technology to remove the employee from the entire system.  The employee’s access to the company systems, such as the company network, computer files, telephones, and even any form of building entry, such as a key code or badge.  The IT department can enable the employee’s accounts to be re-routed to another system, such as the manager’s accounts, so that any current information regarding projects or clients is not lost.  The manager will need to discuss with the IT department exactly which areas the employee worked in so that they are able to delete the employee from all systems and not leave any of their information active in the system.

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Return of Company Property
   Employees that are being terminated are required to return any company property that had been given to them for company use, such as building keys, badges, computers or tablets, mobile phones or even any printed company materials.  These materials are considered company property and should not be allowed to leave with the employee.  In some cases, human resources or IT may need to be consulted at the time the property is returned to ensure it is still in working condition and has not suffered any form of damage.
Although system passwords are part of the IT department, the employee will need to notify the manager of their system passwords before they leave.  While the employee’s accounts will be deleted from the network, the manager will need to access the employee’s accounts to access computer files or telephone messages temporarily until IT can re-route the employee files.

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Benefits Status
   For many terminated employees, they are entitled to payments for their unused benefits or some form of extenuation of them.  For example, many companies pay up to a certain amount of vacation or sick time that has not been used or health insurance coverage can be extended through programs such as COBRA.  During some point of the employee’s termination meeting, they should be presented with a benefits letter, which is designed to outline the status of the employee’s benefits as of their termination.  This letter should include information on all of the employee’s benefit types, such as health/life insurance, retirement accounts and any form of expense or savings accounts.  The benefits letter should also include information on who to contact regarding any questions on the employee’s benefits, including human resources or insurance companies.

Common benefits include:

    • Vacation/sick pay
    • Health insurance
    • Retirement
    • Unpaid debt owed to the employee (such as reimbursements)

Practical Illustration
   Jacob was consulting with the team supervisor, Rose, while preparing for their termination meeting for their employee, Scott.  Jacob and Rose began to prepare a checklist of items for the meeting to make sure they have all of their bases covered.  First, Jacob said he had already notified human resources, so they know about the meeting.  Next, Rose said she had called the IT department to have all of Scott’s system access terminated as well as any badges or building keys deactivated.  She did make a note that these items would need to be retrieved during their meeting.  Lastly, Jacob was able to compile a benefits letter for Scott to take with him, that had all of the information he needed about continuing his health insurance and how to review his life insurance policy.

“I guess the only thing left to do is call him into the office for a talk,” Rose said.


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Lisa Smith is CEO of Andere Corporation and Chief Content Developer at HelpDeskSuites.com. Follow her on Twitter, connect with her on LinkedIn, listen to her Small Business Spoonfuls Podcast, and find more in her Compliance Warriors Facebook Group.

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