7 Tips For Firing Employees Remotely

By Ashley Paskill on October 15, 2020

During the COVID-19 pandemic, and even before, many of your company’s roles may have turned into remote positions. Remote positions have become more popular over the past few years thanks to technology, making employee’s lives easier. However, this has opened up the possibility of firing employees remotely. This presents a whole new challenge to an already difficult process. There are safety and legal considerations to take into account, but if done right, the firing of a remote employee can be done smoothly.

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Walk them through the next steps

While it may be tempting to fire them and just call it a day, walking employees through what they should do next can show that you are caring and that they have actions they can do to move forward. These actions include filing for unemployment, updating their resume, review their current expenses, and consider their next career move. If possible, you may even want to give them resources that you know of or point them to the resources they will need. That way, they can feel less stressed about this difficult situation.

Schedule a video exit interview

When employees get fired, they are often given an exit interview where they are given the news of their termination. In these times of remote work, there are options for doing this in a remote setting as well. Schedule a video meeting for your exit interview. During the meeting, create a timeline to help them wrap things up and move on with ease. Make sure the meeting time works for both parties. During the exit interview, be sure to give the employee a chance to voice their opinions about what they got out of the position at the company and what they would change.

Keep communication open

Communication is key in the workplace, and it is especially important when you are in the process of firing an employee. Keeping communication open will help ease the impact for you, the employee being fired, and the other employees working with you. Being open with communication involves being prepared to answer any questions that the employee has. You may find it useful to create a document that you can reference to make sure you are prepared for questions and have all of the information you need to communicate with the employee.

Be aware of necessary laws and regulations

With the increase in popularity of remote work, it is likely that you have employees located in places other than where your company is headquartered. This means that you have to be aware of laws where your employees are located to make sure you keep the firing legal. It is also important that you protect yourself from wrongful terminations suits by having a video conference with a third-party present, making sure that contracts say that employment is “at will,” and taking other steps necessary.  Talk to your human resources department to make sure you do not miss any logistical steps and get all the necessary documentation in order.

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Make a plan to return materials

If your company offers materials to help employees do their jobs remotely, it is crucial that you make a plan to get these materials back, especially when it comes to expensive electronics. Figure out a way to help the employee mail them back or, if possible, create a plan for the employee to drop the materials off safely in-person. Getting these materials back ensures that you have what you need for the employee taking the terminated employee’s place and that the terminated does not have access to the company’s systems.

Disconnect the fired employee’s access to company systems

It is important that employees leaving a company under any circumstance be taken off company systems, but it’s especially important for employees who are fired. The employee may react negatively to being fired and do things to cause harm to the systems and private data. Let the employee know that you are going to disconnect them from the systems in case they need to get any personal information or files out of the system. Change any passwords and back up company data in case of issues that arise.

Make it personal

While firing the employee is not personal for you, it is definitely personal for the employee and they may take it as a personal attack. Talk with your employee about the reason they are being fired, whether it was a financial or performance-based decision. Again, walk your employee through the next steps, including providing them a contact person within HR to get paperwork completed. If the firing was due to finances, let your employee know that you are open to them putting you down as a reference or recommendation for future positions.

Firing an employee remotely brings up new challenges, but it can be done in a way to help you, the fired employee, and your other employees in a good place to move forward.

By Ashley Paskill

Uloop Writer

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