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The Empuls Glossary

Glossary of Human Resources Management and Employee Benefit Terms

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Employee Termination

Employee Termination is a formal and deliberate process of ending an individual's employment within an organization. This may occur due to various reasons, including poor performance, code-of-conduct violation, or misconduct. Employee termination ends the working relationship between the employee and the employer.

What is employee termination?

Employee termination refers to the end working days of an employee in the company. Employee termination may be voluntary or involuntary, depending upon the situation.

Employee termination is essential for HR and employers to handle termination delicately and adhere to legal and ethical standards, which may involve open communication, unbiased treatment, and providing support to the departing employees can help mitigate negative impacts and maintain active employer-employee relationships.

What are the critical reasons for getting fired?

Critical reasons for termination (Just Cause):

  • Serious misconduct: Examples include theft, violence, harassment, or insubordination. These are clear breaches of trust and can be grounds for immediate termination.
  • Poor performance: Documented performance issues that persist despite warnings and performance improvement plans. The employee must be given a fair chance to improve before termination becomes an option.
  • Violation of company policies: Breaches of major company policies, such as safety violations or misuse of company property. These violations can put the safety of others or the company's reputation at risk.
  • Job abandonment: When an employee is absent from work for an extended period without notice or explanation. This abandonment of their job responsibilities is a valid reason for termination.
  • Redundancy: When a job role becomes obsolete due to restructuring or company downsizing. In these cases, termination may be necessary even if the employee's performance is satisfactory.

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What is the process of employee termination?

The general outline of steps involves in the employee termination process involves:

  1. Review policies and obligations of the company
  2. Determine the reason for termination
  3. Connect or meet the employee
  4. Handle logistics and paperwork
  5. Communicate with the employees
  6. Conduct exit interviews or feedback

      1. Review policies and obligations of the company: Before taking any step towards termination, review relevant company policies, employment contracts, and applicable employment laws to ensure compliance and unbiased treatment.

       2. Determine the reason for termination: HR and employers should gather the evidence to know the cause, which may be due to poor performance, misconduct, or other legitimate reasons.

       3. Connect or meet the employee: In the meeting, the employer should justify the reasons to terminate the employee by providing their perspective towards the behavior or the misconduct. Any necessary paperwork, including a letter of separation agreement, should be prepared beforehand.

       4. Handle logistics and paperwork: By following the terminating meeting, the employer or HR should handle the logistics matters, which may include collecting company property, deactivating the account, and ensuring returning of assets provided by the company. Before leaving, final pay, other benefits and agreements, and company policy should be done.

       5. Communicate with the employees: The company should communicate with the other members of the organization and inform them about the departure of the employees, ensuring confidentiality and providing any necessary information.

       6. Conduct exit interview or feedback: An exit interview/feedback should be conducted before the departure of the employee to gather insights of the experiences or suggestions/concerns related to the organization.

When is an employee terminated?

Termination of an employee takes place when the employee is performing poorly, misconduct, or any unfair practices take place in the organization. Termination can be by free will or forced, which depends on the situation.

What are the best practices for terminating an employee?

Termination of employment, also known as firing an employee, is a sensitive and legally complex process. Employers must follow best practices to ensure they are acting fairly and complying with all applicable laws.

Here's a breakdown of key elements:

1. Before termination:

  • Progressive discipline: For most performance-related issues, a documented progressive discipline process should be followed. This typically involves verbal warnings, written warnings, and finally, termination. The aim is to give the employee a chance to improve before termination becomes the only option.
  • Performance improvement plans (PIPs): If an employee's job performance is lacking, a performance improvement plan (PIP) can be implemented. This document outlines specific performance expectations and improvement goals for the employee. The PIP provides a clear opportunity to address shortcomings and potentially avoid termination.
  • Documentation: Thoroughly document all performance issues, disciplinary actions, and interactions leading up to the deciding to terminate decision. This protects the employer in case of legal challenges. Documenting specific dates, times, and details of conversations is crucial.

2. The termination meeting:

  • Respectful and professional: Conduct the termination meeting in a private and respectful manner. Explain the reason for termination clearly and concisely. Focus on job-related reasons and avoid making personal attacks.
  • Notice period: Provide the employee with written notice of termination, adhering to any requirements outlined in the employment contract or state law. Notice periods can vary depending on the situation and location. Some states require a minimum amount of written notice before termination, while others do not.
  • Final paycheck: Ensure the employee receives their final paycheck promptly, including all accrued wages and earned vacation time. They are legally entitled to this compensation upon termination.

3. After termination:

  • Exit interviews (Optional): Conduct exit interviews, if appropriate, to gather feedback from departing employees. This can offer valuable insights into employee relations and company culture. Exit interviews can be conducted anonymously or in person, depending on the company's preference.
  • Unemployment benefits: Advise the employee of their eligibility for unemployment benefits and provide any necessary documentation. Being terminated "for cause" typically disqualifies an employee from receiving unemployment benefits, while being laid off or terminated "without cause" usually allows them to apply.

How to announce an employee termination?

Announcing an employee termination should be handled with sensitivity, professionalism, and respect. The steps to announce an employee termination are as follows:

  1. Plan a communication
  2. Maintain confidentiality
  3. Prepare a clear and concise statement
  4. Choose the appropriate communication method
  5. It offers a sense of empathy and respect
  6. Offer support to remaining employees
  7. Provide resources and guidance

      1. Plan a communication: Analyze the situation and who needs to inform the termination, which includes the employee's immediate supervisor, HR department, or other stakeholders.

       2. Maintain confidentiality: It's important to maintain confidentiality and respect the departing employee's privacy and confidentiality during the announcement. Share information only with the people who need to know and avoid any gossip.

       3. Prepare a clear and concise statement: Create proper communication by easing the employee and clarify properly with the employee. All the essential information should be provided, such as employee departure and general explanation for the departure.

       4. Choose the appropriate communication method: The method of communication depends on various factors such as the size of the organization, nature of termination, and level of impact fostering on a team which can be conveyed in person or by email.

       5. It offers a sense of empathy and respect: The information should be conveyed respectfully to the employee and with ease. Be prepared for cross-questioning or addressing various concerns by the employee.

       6. Offer support to remaining employees: Provide opportunities to express feelings and add their concerns and be empathetic towards them and offer proper support during their transition.

       7. Provide resources and guidance: According to the situation, help the employee by providing resources and guidance, which may involve roles and responsibilities, training opportunities or services.

Who is responsible for terminating an employee?

HR is primarily responsible for terminating the employee by informing them, conducting meetings with them, and conveying the issue, which may be performance-related, disciplined, or not following the code-of-conduct. This situation should be handled critically. They also provide guidance related to legal compliance and handle logistical aspects of the termination process.

How to write an employee termination letter?

Format to write employee termination letter:

  1. Data
  2. Add employee information.
  3. Salutation
  4. Make a formal statement.
  5. Include the reasons for termination
  6. Termination details
  7. Appreciation and well wishes
  8. Add contact information
  9. Closing
  10. Signature

       1. Date: Add the current date on the company letterhead, the name of the company, and the address to print.

        2. Add employee's information: The information related to the employee's name, position, department, or team they were working with and the employee ID or any other relevant information.

        3. Salutation: Add the employee's formal salutation with their designation.

        4. Make a formal statement: Start by expressing a clear statement of termination and notify them of the primary concern.

        5. Include the reasons for termination: List the reasons that led to the employee's termination with cause, and support the reasons with the evidence.

        6. Termination Details: Clearly state the effective date of termination, which is the last day of the employee's employment, including information regarding the final payment, benefits, or severance package.

        7. Appreciation and well wishes: Convey appreciation for the employee's contribution and offer well wishes.

       8. Add contact information: Provide contact details of the HR representative or other relevant person whom the employee can contact for their queries.

       9. Closing: End the letter with professional closing followed by the name and position.

     10. Signature: Signing the letter and providing the physical copy and typing the name/position below the closing is sufficient.

Employee pulse surveys:

These are short surveys that can be sent frequently to check what your employees think about an issue quickly. The survey comprises fewer questions (not more than 10) to get the information quickly. These can be administered at regular intervals (monthly/weekly/quarterly).

One-on-one meetings:

Having periodic, hour-long meetings for an informal chat with every team member is an excellent way to get a true sense of what’s happening with them. Since it is a safe and private conversation, it helps you get better details about an issue.


eNPS (employee Net Promoter score) is one of the simplest yet effective ways to assess your employee's opinion of your company. It includes one intriguing question that gauges loyalty. An example of eNPS questions include: How likely are you to recommend our company to others? Employees respond to the eNPS survey on a scale of 1-10, where 10 denotes they are ‘highly likely’ to recommend the company and 1 signifies they are ‘highly unlikely’ to recommend it.

Based on the responses, employees can be placed in three different categories:

  • Promoters
    Employees who have responded positively or agreed.
  • Detractors
    Employees who have reacted negatively or disagreed.
  • Passives
    Employees who have stayed neutral with their responses.

What are the causes of employee termination?

Employee termination due to various reasons:

  1. Poor performance
  2. Attendance and punctuality
  3. Violation of the code of conduct
  4. Reduction in workforce or restructuring
  5. Resignation or voluntary termination
  6. Misconduct or policy violation

      1. Poor performance: Employees who consistently fail to meet the team expectations or do not improve despite several warnings or feedback.

       2. Attendance and punctuality: Often less attendance, late, or lack of adherence to the organization's attendance policies.

       3. Violation of the code of conduct: Employees violating the code of conduct or involved in unethical practices may also face termination.

       4. Reduction in workforce or restructuring: Certain economic factors, organizational changes, or strategic decisions can lead to terminations due to redundancy or the need to streamline operations.

       5. Resignation or voluntary termination: Employees may voluntarily choose by submitting their resignation for personal reasons or new job opportunities.

       6. Misconduct or policy violation: Major misconduct, which includes fraud, harassment, or breach of company policies, can lead to termination.

What are the laws of employee termination?

Some general considerations related to employee termination are as follows:

  1. Employee contracts
  2. Notice period
  3. Discrimination and retaliation
  4. Final pay and benefits
  5. Consultation

      1. Employee contracts: Employees must adhere to the terms and conditions outlined in employment contracts or agreements. Termination should be done with proper notice and breach of contract claims.

      2. Notice period: Many jurisdictions require employers to provide a certain amount of time, called a notice period, to serve the organization before termination. The  length may vary based on certain factors, service size, position, or employment laws.

      3. Discrimination and retaliation: Employers cannot terminate employees based on protected characteristics, race, gender, religion, disability, or age. Termination should be for non-discriminatory reasons.

      4. Final pay and benefits: Employers must provide terminated employees with their last paycheck, accrued vacations, holiday pay, or other related uses.

     5. Consultation: Some jurisdictions mandate that employees consult employee representatives, labor unions, or government agencies.

What are the types of termination?

Types of termination are:

  • Voluntary termination: When an employee resigns from their position of their own accord.
  • Involuntary termination: When the employer decides to terminate the employee's employment. This can be with or without cause.
  • Layoff: Termination due to a company restructuring or economic downturn, often affecting multiple employees on the basis of redundancy rather than individual performance.
  • Reduction in hours (RIF): When an employee's hours are reduced due to economic reasons, but they are not laid off entirely. This can be a temporary or permanent situation.

How do you fight termination of employment?

If an employee feels their termination was wrongful, they may choose to fight it. This can involve filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or pursuing legal action.

Here are some grounds for wrongful termination:

  • Discrimination: Termination based on race, gender, religion, age, disability, or other protected characteristics.
  • Retaliation: Termination in retaliation for filing a complaint of discrimination or harassment.
  • Violation of employment contract: If the termination breaches a specific term outlined in the employment contract, such as a requirement for following a progressive discipline process before termination.

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