How Should Human Resources Participate in the Termination Process?

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It is important for company owners, executives, employees and human resources departments to fully understand how HR participates in the termination process. Human resources departments play an important role in the firing process, although the nature of that role can change depending on the circumstances and an individual company’s policy. Here are a few of the proper ways human resources departments participate in the unfortunate event an employee needs to be terminated.

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Providing Input On The Decision

In some cases, HR departments may have direct input on the decision to fire an employee. For example, the employee might be in the human resources department or department managers may want their input to determine if firing the employee is the correct next step. Even if the decision is not ultimately that of the human resources department, the heads of human resources departments may be asked their opinion on the matter. This is more likely to happen in a smaller company whose human resources manager might fulfill other roles as well. It is not common that a human resources manager will be the only one making the decision to terminate an employee – usually that is a choice that falls upon the employee’s supervisor.

Final Paycheck And Possible Continuation Of Benefits

Because human resources departments typically manage payroll, they are responsible for ensuring a terminated employee’s final paycheck is given for all work they did up until they were let go. There may also be severance pay involved, in which case human resources handles that and may help negotiate it too. In many cases existing benefits may end the moment the employee is terminated, but in others terminated employees may have been given some benefits as part of a severance package or as required by law. For example, as the Houston Chronicle notes, terminated employees have the right to continue group health insurance under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget and Reconciliation Act (COBRA) for a price and for a set amount of time.

Following Established Company Policy

One of the biggest roles human resources departments should play in terminations is to ensure company policy is correctly followed throughout the process. This is to maintain consistency and fairness when it comes to matters of internal company policy. Human resources departments serve as a necessary mediator to keep track of the process, handle the paperwork that severs the employer-employee relationship and communicate the rights each party has, among other key duties. Ideally, human resources departments should become involved in an employee issue before firing is proposed, as stated by Monster. This allows both human resources departments and supervisors to work with the employee for improved performance or establish a well-documented path towards terminating them.

How Should Human Resources Participate in the Termination Process

Seeking Legal Help If Necessary

Human resources departments need to participate in the firing process to ensure everything is done legally. This is to protect the company as well as the rights of the employee being terminated. However, sometimes a situation might be more complicated, and outside legal help will need to be obtained. A fired employee could bring a lawsuit against the company for wrongful termination or a firing might be unusually complicated due to state law or an existing employment contract. In any of these occurrences, human resources departments will work with managers, executives and outside legal counsel to settle the matter.

The process of terminating an employee is a trying time for everyone involved. Human resources departments have a duty to participate in the process in multiple ways and ensure the best possible outcome. HR is integral to the termination process.