Being in charge of a group of employees can be challenging, especially when given the task of terminating an employee. Regardless of the circumstances that lead to the termination, breaking the news to the employee is never an easy thing to do. With so many employment laws out there today, terminating an employee involves more than just saying, “You’re fired!” Here are some things to consider when firing an employee.

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Know the Reason

It’s important to know the reason why the employee is being terminated. The reason behind the termination can play a part in how well the employee accepts the termination. If it a matter of performance? Is it economically motivated? Is it due to a reduction of the workforce? Put the reasons for the termination on paper in a short paragraph. If the termination is due to poor performance, it’s important that the employer have all this documented. For instance, any verbal or written warnings the employee may have received prior to the termination should be documented in the employee’s file.

Is the Employee Under Protected Status

Employment laws have changed in recent years, and employers no longer need to have a reason for firing someone. They can now “fire at will” any employee and at any time. However, discrimination laws are still very much in effect, especially with the word “discrimination” being heard almost everywhere we go. Employers need to make sure their employees is not protected under local, state or federal employment laws. Employees cannot be fired based on age, race religion, sex citizenship, national origin, sexual orientation, marital status and disability. Unless the employee is a white male under the age of 40, most employees fall into one of the protected statuses, so employers need to keep this in mind.

Consider Confidential Information

Some employees have access to sensitive and confidential information about the company and/or the employer. If some of this information was removed or copied, it can be harmful to the employer. The employer needs to make sure the employee doesn’t copy or remove some of the confidential information from the system prior to leaving. The employer may want to change passwords or deactivate an employee’s access to certain files prior to the actual termination.

Do It In Writing

U.S. News & World Report states that it’s important to not only speak with the employee but to also do it in writing. In most cases, termination comes as a surprise to the employee. They’re probably going to be upset and nervous and will have a lot questions. Unfortunately, due to the surprise, many of these questions won’t come up until later. Providing the terminated employee with something in writing often answers many of the questions the individual may have regarding reasons for the termination. Make sure that whatever was told to the employee verbally matches what’s on paper.

As uncomfortable as firing an employee may be, sometimes it can lead to better things for the organization. In addition to having a more efficient workplace, it can also give the current employees a sense of accomplishment knowing that they’re still valued as employees. Terminating an employee doesn’t have to be the end of the world when it’s done in a respectful and law-abiding way.