The best way to terminate an employee

Firing an employee is always a complicated process for both the employee and the small business owners. Unfortunately, it's a process that almost every entrepreneur faces at one time or another. As the owner, you have to decide the best way to terminate an employee with the possible risk of legal repercussions. 

Where do I start?

There are dozens of reasons why an employer may need to release a staff member whether it's downsizing or negative work performance. Once you decide you need to terminate an employee, you have to start a formal termination process in advance either personally or through a human resources department.

The formal process will help in case of allegations of wrongful termination or discrimination. It will also give a clear line of communication between you and your human resources and other employees. For example, if you are downsizing your staff, you need to be transparent about the possibility of termination and what the team can expect for who may keep positions.

How do I confront the employee?

Once the formal process starts, you'll have to plan the discussion between you and the employee. Careful planning is the critical component to making the discussion as painless and quick as possible. There are a few steps to follow during the conversation:

1. Get to the point quickly

2. Tell them the reason for the termination

3. Answer questions with specifics

4. Tell the employee the next steps

5. Thank the worker for their contributions to the company

The conversation should not take more than ten to 15 minutes. The worst thing for the employee is to have a long discussion about why they were fired. You should also plan to terminate the member earlier in the week to prevent anger over the weekend.

Do I need a reason to fire someone?

Georgia, like many other states, follows "at will" employment laws. Essentially, the laws mean that the employees work at the will of the employer, and the employer can fire the worker at any time for almost any reason.

However, there are limitations to "at will" employment because employers have to follow federal laws. Federal laws prohibit unlawful employment practices such as retaliation or discrimination. It makes it crucial for employers to have the proper documentation for termination before the firing takes place.

If you have concerns about a specific employee's performance or circumstances, consult with your human resources department before making any decisions. You may also consult with Georgia law about the best reasons for letting someone go.

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