How to Properly Fire an Employee

  • 📅 February 15, 2023 📝 Last updated on March 19th, 2023 🕒 17 minutes Read time

Terminating an employee can be a challenging decision for managers —and not every manager has fired someone— one that is never taken lightly but can be necessary for the prosperity of the business. This can be especially challenging when the employee fabricates reasons to call out of work, violates company policies, or simply fails to perform up to copay standards.

If an employee repeatedly fails to fulfill their job duties and obligations, despite attempts to rectify the situation, releasing them may be necessary.

When it comes to terminating an employee, several crucial factors must be considered, including the reason for termination and mitigating any adverse effects on the business. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore these factors and provide guidance on the optimal approach to discharging an employee.

What it Means to Fire Someone?

To fire someone means to terminate their employment, usually because of unsatisfactory job performance, company restructuring, or other reasons. Firing someone is often a difficult decision for employers, as it can have a significant impact on the employee’s life and livelihood.

When an employer decides to fire someone, they typically have a clear reason for doing so and follow established procedures for handling the termination, such as providing notice and severance pay if required by law or company policy. Firing someone is a serious matter and should be approached with professionalism, empathy, and respect for the employee’s rights and dignity.

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Common Reasons for Employee Termination

Poor conduct

If your employee is displaying unprofessional behavior, such as a bad attitude or disrespect towards you and clients, it can harm your business reputation and decrease productivity. If the behavior persists and has been reported by others, you may need to consider termination to protect your business.

While addressing the behavior may be possible in some cases, ultimately, you cannot jeopardize the success you have worked hard to achieve.

What to say when firing someone for poor conduct:

“I’m sorry to have to say this, but we have decided to terminate your employment with us due to ongoing issues with your conduct in the workplace.”

“We have received multiple reports of inappropriate behavior on your part, including instances of insubordination and disregard for company policies and procedures.”

“Despite our attempts to work with you on improving your behavior and performance, we have not seen the progress we had hoped for, and as a result, we have made the difficult decision to let you go.”

“We understand that this may come as a shock and be difficult for you, but please know that this decision was not made lightly and is based on a pattern of behavior that is not acceptable in our workplace.”

“We will do everything we can to make this transition as smooth as possible for you, including providing you with information about your benefits and any options for assistance in finding a new job.”

Poor Performance

Employee underperformance often leads to losses and operational inefficiencies, posing significant challenges for businesses. Clear communication of expectations and regular feedback is crucial to avoid underperformance. If support fails to improve an employee’s performance, termination may be necessary. Companies should prioritize building the most effective team to achieve their goals.

What to say when firing someone for poor performance:

“We’ve noticed that your work output has consistently fallen below expectations, and we’ve tried to work with you to improve. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen the progress we were hoping for, and we’ve decided that it’s time to part ways.”

“While we appreciate your hard work, it’s become clear that you’re not meeting the standards we need for this position. We’ve given you feedback and opportunities to improve, but we haven’t seen the results we were looking for, and we’ve decided it’s best to move forward without you.”

“Your work has not met the level of quality we need for this role, despite our efforts to help you succeed. We value your contributions, but we need to make a change in this position to meet our goals as a company.”

Company Policy Violations

Misconduct harms employees and companies, with consequences such as termination. Employers must prioritize employee well-being and act promptly when misconduct arises. An inclusive, secure workplace prevents misconduct and maintains professionalism. Established policies and procedures should be in place, communicated clearly, and consistently enforced to prevent and address misconduct.

What to say when firing someone for company policy violations:

“Unfortunately, we have to let you go due to multiple violations of company policies. Despite our warnings and attempts to help you improve, the behavior has continued.”

“Your actions have violated our company’s code of conduct, which we take very seriously. We can no longer continue your employment with us.”

“We have evidence that you have violated our company policies, and this behavior is not acceptable. Therefore, we have to terminate your employment with us.”

“We regret to inform you that we have to let you go due to a breach of company policy. We value our policies and expect all employees to adhere to them.”

Poor Attendance

Attendance plays a crucial role in the success of any enterprise. Consistent and dependable attendance impacts productivity and can disrupt workflows when employees are frequently tardy or absent.

To avoid misunderstandings, employers must have unambiguous attendance policies and communicate them clearly to their staff.

However, if attendance issues persist despite clear communication and policies, termination may be necessary. Employers must prioritize their business’s productivity and smooth operation and take appropriate measures to ensure this.

What to say when firing someone for poor attendance:

“Your attendance has been consistently poor, and despite our previous discussions and efforts to help you improve, it hasn’t gotten better. Unfortunately, we can’t continue to operate with such an unreliable schedule and we have to let you go.”

“We understand that there may be extenuating circumstances that have led to your attendance issues, but we need employees who are able to consistently show up for work. We’ve exhausted all options to help you improve your attendance, and unfortunately, we have to terminate your employment with us.”

“We’ve noticed a pattern of missed shifts and tardiness that is causing disruption to our operations. We need reliable employees who can meet the demands of their job, and we can’t continue to keep your position open with such poor attendance. We’re sorry to have to let you go, but it’s necessary for the sake of the company.”


Maintaining a professional demeanor is crucial for employees while on the job. Misconduct, such as aggression, insubordination, or damaging company property, can negatively impact company morale and reputation. A well-defined code of conduct that is consistently enforced can help prevent such issues and promote a positive work environment.

If warnings and counseling fail to curb an employee’s misconduct, termination may be the only viable option. Employers must prioritize the well-being of their organization and its employees, taking appropriate action to ensure continued smooth operation.

What to say when firing someone for misconduct:

“Unfortunately, we have to let you go due to your violation of company policy on multiple occasions. We have tried to work with you on improving your behavior, but it hasn’t been successful.”

“Your behavior towards coworkers has been unacceptable, and after multiple warnings and discussions, we have to terminate your employment. We can’t tolerate harassment or bullying in the workplace.”

“Your actions have put the safety and well-being of our employees and customers at risk. We cannot overlook this serious misconduct and have to terminate your employment.”

“Your repeated absences and tardiness have been disruptive to the company’s operations. Despite our efforts to accommodate your schedule, we cannot continue to tolerate this level of poor attendance.”

Company Restructuring

In some instances, changes in a company’s needs may result in the redundancy of certain positions, making termination necessary as part of the restructuring efforts.

Employers must communicate clearly with affected employees and provide support during the transitional period. This may include guidance on how to apply for new jobs, resources for career counseling, resume writing workshops, and references.

Providing support to impacted employees can help mitigate the effects of job loss and give them a better chance of securing new opportunities. Employers should prioritize their employees’ well-being and provide them with the resources they need to move forward in their careers.

What to say when firing someone for company restructuring:

“Unfortunately, due to recent changes in our business, we have to restructure our team. As a result, we will have to let you go.”

“I regret to inform you that your position is being eliminated as part of our company’s restructuring plan.”

“The company has decided to restructure, and this means we need to reduce our workforce. I’m sorry to say that your position has been impacted, and we will have to terminate your employment.”

“As part of our efforts to streamline our operations, we have to make some difficult decisions, including the elimination of certain positions. I’m sorry to inform you that your position is one of them.”

“We are going through a period of restructuring, and unfortunately, your position has been identified as one that will be eliminated. We appreciate your contributions to the company and wish you the best in your future endeavors.”

End of Contract

In situations where employees are on fixed-term contracts, termination may be necessary once the contract period has ended.

Employers must communicate the terms of the contract clearly, including the duration of the contract and any conditions or stipulations related to termination.

Additionally, providing sufficient notice to employees of the impending termination allows them to prepare for their departure. Employers can offer assistance with finding new job opportunities, writing recommendation letters, and providing references.

What to say when firing someone at the end of contract:

“Unfortunately, your contract with us has come to an end and we will not be renewing it. We appreciate your contributions to the company and wish you the best in your future endeavors.”

“Your contract with us is set to expire and we have decided not to extend it. We thank you for your time and efforts during your tenure with us and wish you success in your future endeavors.”

Poor Cultural Fit

A cohesive and productive work environment is crucial for business success. A poor cultural fit can negatively impact team morale and productivity.

Employers should ensure new hires align with the company’s values and culture to promote a positive work environment and prevent cultural issues. If integration efforts fail, termination may be necessary. Prioritizing team well-being and maintaining a cohesive work environment should be a top priority for employers.

What to say when firing someone for poor cultural fit:

“Unfortunately, it seems that our company culture and your work style are not a good match. It’s important for our team to share the same values and vision, and we’ve noticed that you’ve been struggling to adapt. We appreciate your contributions, but we believe it’s best for both parties if we part ways.”

“We’ve noticed that you haven’t been able to connect with your colleagues and have been struggling to work collaboratively. As a team-oriented company, we need everyone to work well together to achieve our goals. We don’t want to hold you back, but we also don’t want to hinder our team’s success. We’ve decided to terminate your employment with us.”

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Steps to to Fire Someone Properly

When considering terminating someone’s employment, managers need to go about it properly so that they can avoid unnecessary conflict, here we go over the different aspects of the process so you can determine, for yourself, the best way to fire an employee given your business environment.

Seek Compromise and Make Preparations

Terminating an employee is a significant decision that can have long-lasting repercussions for both the employee and the employer. As such, it is important to take the necessary steps before firing an employee to seek a compromise and make preparations.

Assess the situation

When considering an employee’s attendance, employers should consider how often and for how long the employee has been absent, whether there is a pattern to their absenteeism, whether the issue has been previously brought to the employee’s attention, what the employee’s work quality is like when they’re present, and whether there are any underlying factors, such as personal or health issues, that may be contributing to the problem.

Communicate With The Employee

Open and honest communication with the employee is essential. Clearly and respectfully communicate concerns and expectations, and allow the employee to provide their perspective. The aim of this discussion is to seek a compromise and find a mutually agreeable solution, wherever possible.

Set aside time to discuss their absences and the impact it is having on the business:

  • Be clear and direct about your concerns.
  • Ask the employee if there is anything they want to share or if there are any underlying issues that may be causing their absences.
  • Set clear expectations for attendance and job performance moving forward.
  • Let the employee know that their job is at risk if they continue to miss work without a valid reason.

Document everything

It is also important to document any incidents or occurrences that have led to the need for termination. This documentation should include a detailed account of the events leading up to the decision, along with any relevant information or evidence that supports the decision.

This includes:

  • The date and time of every absence
  • The reason given for the absence
  • Any communication you have had with the employee regarding their absences
  • Any disciplinary action taken

Follow your company’s policy

It’s crucial to review an employee’s contractual obligations, such as employment agreements, notice periods, and severance packages, to ensure proper procedures are followed. Employers must adhere to legal and ethical standards, which involve providing a warning to employees whose attendance falls short, providing a performance improvement plan, and following specific procedures outlined in the company’s policy before terminating employment.

Remember to exercise due diligence in following these steps and to always prioritize compliance with your company’s policies.

Offer support and resources

Sometimes, an employee’s absences may be due to underlying issues such as mental health or personal problems. Offer the employee support and resources such as:

  • EAP (Employee Assistance Program) services
  • Flexible work arrangements
  • Access to counseling or therapy services
  • Time off for medical appointments or family emergencies

Schedule a Meeting

If termination is deemed necessary after reviewing an employee’s performance history and documentation, employers must handle the situation professionally and respectfully. Hold a private meeting with the employee and provide clear reasons for the decision in a respectful manner. Be prepared to answer questions and offer constructive feedback. Conduct the meeting in a private location and have a manager or HR representative present for support.

Provide Support

To support terminated employees, employers can offer career counseling, information on unemployment benefits, job placement services, and networking opportunities. Employers must approach termination with empathy, provide clear and respectful information, and avoid discriminatory or retaliatory language. Employers offering resources to terminated employees value well-being, promoting a positive workplace environment.

Consider Timing

Employers should consider the impact on the business and the employee’s personal situation when terminating. Delaying termination until a critical project is finished can ensure a smooth transition. Conversely, postponing the termination due to a personal crisis demonstrates empathy and respect for the employee. Striking a balance between these factors can help to ensure a fair and respectful termination process.

To avoid legal repercussions that can harm their business, employers must take precautions when terminating an employee. Providing a written termination letter with clear reasons and documentation can prevent misunderstandings. Additionally, having an objective witness present can ensure a professional and legal process.

Maintain Open Communication With the Rest of Your Team

Terminating an employee can negatively impact team morale, leading to anxiety and uncertainty. Employers must communicate the decision professionally, provide support such as counseling services, and redistribute workload to maintain productivity.

Terminating an Employee Without Cause

Employers may find terminating an employee without cause to be a challenging decision. Nevertheless, a company’s needs can require changes in staffing, and an employee may need to be fired; employment can be a difficult arena. This segment outlines the steps employers should take when terminating an employee without cause.

  1. Review the Employment Contract: Employers should review employment contracts before terminating an employee to adhere to the outlined terms related to termination, such as notice periods and severance pay.
  2. Provide Reasonable Notice: Employers should provide reasonable notice when terminating an employee without cause to allow time to make arrangements and find new employment. Notice duration depends on the employee’s position and length of service, and statutory notice may be required in some cases, providing the minimum amount of notice required by law.
  3. Prepare for the Termination Meeting: Terminating an employee requires proper preparation to handle it professionally and empathetically. Employers should create a script or talking points to guide the conversation and prepare all relevant paperwork, including the termination letter and severance pay documentation, for the meeting.
  4. Hold the Termination Meeting: In-person termination meetings are crucial for clear and respectful communication of the decision to the employee. During the meeting, employers should explain the reason for the termination, the date of termination, and details related to severance pay or benefits to minimize confusion.
  5. Provide Support: Terminating an employee is challenging and stressful for both the employer and the employee. Employers must prioritize employee well-being by providing support during the transitional period.

This can include career counseling, resume writing workshops, references, and awareness of benefits and entitlements, such as unemployment insurance. Providing these resources can ensure a smooth transition to new opportunities, equip the employee to succeed in their job search, and alleviate the financial burden of job loss.

  1. Communicate With Other Employees: After terminating an employee, employers should communicate the decision to other employees in a professional and respectful manner.
  2. Document the Termination: Documentation of termination protects employers from legal action. Employers should record the reason, date, and details to create a comprehensive record. This enables the defense of the decision against legal challenges by demonstrating compliance with policies and requirements.

Terminating an employee without cause can be challenging and sensitive, and employers must ensure fair and legal action. This involves adhering to employment contract terms, providing reasonable notice, and communicating respectfully to minimize legal risks and maintain positive relationships.

Illegal Causes of Termination

Employers must avoid illegal reasons for termination. Discrimination based on race, gender, age, religion, national origin, or disability is illegal. Retaliation against protected activities, whistleblowers, and FMLA leave-takers is also illegal.

Violating an employment contract or collective bargaining agreement is illegal. Employers must comply with the terms to avoid legal repercussions related to wrongful termination.

Firing New Hires

Terminating a new hire is a challenging decision that should be approached with care by employers.

Reviewing the employment contract, assessing performance during the probationary period, and providing clear feedback are important steps. Employers should be honest and specific about the reasons for the termination and provide any necessary documentation.

Remaining professional and respectful during the termination process is crucial. Employers should avoid negative comments and criticism, and instead provide constructive feedback. This can ensure that the process is handled professionally and empathetically.

Final Thoughts
In summary, it’s accepted that terminating an employee is a complex decision, but by adhering to measures, employers can handle the process professionally and respectfully while protecting the business, which is the best way to fire an employee. Conducting a comprehensive evaluation, communicating the decision clearly and tactfully, and providing support during the transition can facilitate a smoother process. Taking necessary steps to handle the situation professionally and respectfully safeguards the organization’s interests, minimizes negative impact on employees, and preserves a positive work environment.

Keep an eye on the EBoost blog for more business advice, financial solutions, and career tips!

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How to Fire an Employee FAQ

Firing someone is never an easy task, but there are ways to approach the situation with empathy and respect. Here are some tips on how to fire someone nicely:

  1. Be honest and direct: Start the conversation by being honest and direct about the situation. Explain why the termination is necessary and provide specific examples if possible.
  2. Show empathy: Losing a job can be a difficult experience, so it’s important to show empathy towards the person being let go. Acknowledge their hard work and contributions to the company.
  3. Offer support: Provide support to the person being fired by offering to write them a reference letter, helping them with their job search, or providing them with a severance package.
  4. Keep it private: Respect the person’s privacy by having the conversation in a private space away from other employees.
  5. Plan ahead: Have a plan in place for how to handle the transition, including how to delegate the person’s responsibilities to others on the team.

Remember, the goal is to be professional, empathetic, and respectful when firing someone. This can help to minimize the negative impact on both the employee and the company.

Firing someone is a difficult conversation, and it’s important to approach it with honesty, empathy, and respect.

When letting someone go, it’s important to explain the reason for the termination clearly and directly, while also acknowledging the employee’s hard work and contributions to the company. You should also offer support and assistance, such as writing a reference letter or helping the employee with their job search.

Finally, make sure to handle the conversation in a private setting and have a plan in place for handling the transition. Remember that the goal is to be professional and compassionate, while also protecting the interests of the company.

Terminating an employee without cause can be a challenging situation for both the employer and the employee. When making the decision to terminate an employee without cause, it’s important to approach the situation with empathy and professionalism.

Start by scheduling a private meeting with the employee to discuss the termination. Be honest and transparent about the reasons for the decision, but avoid assigning blame or making negative comments about the employee’s performance. It’s important to maintain a respectful and positive tone throughout the conversation.

Offer the employee support and assistance during the transition, such as helping with job search efforts, providing a reference, or offering a severance package. If the employee has any questions or concerns, be prepared to listen and respond with empathy and understanding.

Finally, make sure to handle the termination process in accordance with all legal and company policies, including providing the employee with any required notice or compensation. By approaching the situation with professionalism and empathy, you can help to minimize the negative impact on both the employee and the company.

Eduardo Mora - Eboost Partners
Eduardo Mora
As a director of marketing, my main function is to oversee and implement the organization's marketing strategies and plans. This helps the organization reach its target audience, increase brand awareness, and ultimately achieve its business goals.