Ready, Set: Fire! 6 Tips on How to Fire an Employee

Let’s face it, Employers; firing an employee is one of the toughest things you have to do in your business. Except for those rare occasions (or people) where it provides some measure of gratitude to get rid of a truly “bad apple,” this is one thing that routinely keeps supervisors up at night. That said, here are some tips that I recommend when firing an employee.

  1. Get to the point. When you discharge a worker, do not delay. Tell them as soon as possible what you are doing. You may want to have it be the very first thing you say, frankly. Thus, as soon as the employee is seated, you might say: “Suzy, I want to tell you that you are being let go today.” The exact words you use (i.e., “let go,” “fired” or “terminated”) are up to you, but you want to convey a finality of the employment relationship, and do it promptly.
  1. Keep it short. Generally, the termination meeting should take 5 or 10 minutes – tops. Right after you announce the job termination, you will provide a few brief reasons (or the singular reason if only one) that are the cause of the termination. If done properly, the termination will not be a surprise in most cases. The employee will have been warned about performance issues, etc., in the past. Of course, you will not say anything to create or fuel a lawsuit. [When in doubt, discuss the termination with legal counsel beforehand.] If you use a standard termination form or progressive discipline form, give it to the employee.
  2. Have a plan. Before the meeting, know what you are going to say and not say. You can jot down a note or two if that helps, but commit to staying on track and on topic. Do not have a generalized idea of termination without having thought about how you are specifically, quickly and efficiently going to convey the idea to the employee.
  3. Don’t go soft. Do not apologize or make excuses for the decision. If you have decided to terminate the employee’s position, then get on with it. Do not dither at the termination meeting about how you wish you could have worked it out or about how sorry you are to have to do this. This is not the time for sorrow. It is the time to end the employment relationship and move on.
  4. Don’t argue. This is a termination — not a debate.
  5. Do it late in the day/week. Convey the termination at the end of the day or shift, and preferably on a Friday. Though what day you do it is not particularly essential, it is quite helpful to do so at the end of the day when everyone is leaving your office or plant and not expected to return for some time. Conveying a termination while the other employees are still working can lead to unnecessary confrontation and/or could make the situation worse than it otherwise already is.
  6. If you are an employer and you have questions regarding employee termination or please contact the employment lawyers at Trinity Law at 843-8046 or visit us on the web at