Employee Terminations Are Not for Amateurs, Says Canadian Expert

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Canadian law, governing employment, may be different than U.S. statues, but Howard Levitt, who practices employment in eight provinces of Canada says, “Firing employees in a fit of pique, using colourful expletives, is for TV dramas. Employers who compound dismissals with a dose of embarrassment will incur judicial wrath.”

According to Levitt, Employers will assign inexperienced personnel (managers) to conduct termination meetings without training, planning and legal advice. Dismissed employees can make mental distress claims if they experience poor exit interviews.

Levitt suggests a number of strategies that should be in place before termination meetings.

Terminations should be private. The meeting should be the place an employee is informed of his or her dismissal. Gossip will occur, but it’s better after the employee has left. Don’t escort an employee from your business, with other employees as witnesses. Judges may penalize a company that thinks terminations require melodrama.

Be careful about the timing of a termination. Ex-employees may claim additional liability if you terminate them just before their wedding, during Christmas, on their birthday or after recovering from an illness. In some cases, however, their termination may need to be immediate because of their infraction of the rules or policy.

Don’t schedule termination meetings for Friday afternoons either, since those being terminated may not have access to an attorney, doctor and social services or the opportunity to seek a new job immediately.

Levitt added, “Employees may plead, debate or become hostile. Do not be baited into argument or acrimony. Unless you are prepared to reconsider (in which case you were not ready for this meeting), such discussions can damage your position. If you are not alleging cause, offer a reference letter and provide a letter delineating the severance package.”

Terminations may be necessary, but if you have a plan and process, instead of making mistakes, then ex-employees are less likely to claim any liability.

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