Terminate with Care





Sometimes you just have to say goodbye to an employee. Termination is difficult and stressful for everyone involved, and doing it the right way can save you even more stress later on.

“If an organization doesn’t fire someone properly, they can end up in court and it can cost a lot of money,” says human resources consultant, Janice Goldsborough. “If you are caught up in a wrongful dismissal case, it is not good for your organization’s reputation and it could make it more difficult to recruit personnel.”

An employer can terminate any employee at any time, as long as the employer pays the employee enough money to satisfy Employment Standards regulations and court precedent, or prove just cause.

You can terminate someone for “just cause” without notice if the employee has demonstrated consistent poor performance or has engaged in serious workplace conduct that is inappropriate or harmful to your organization.

If you need to fire someone for just cause, keep the following in mind:

  • the onus is on the employer to prove misconduct if the employee were to challenge the dismissal in court;
  • you should meet face-to-face with the employee and have a script so that you say everything you need to say;
  • you should also provide a written notice of termination;
  • your script should include requests to return equipment and keys and to disclose computer passwords;
  • during the meeting, it needs to be clear that your decision is final – the meeting is not a performance evaluation or a negotiation;
  • in lieu of notice, you must pay the dismissed employee an amount of money based on Employment Standards regulations and court precedent;
  • you might consider offering more than the minimum amount and then asking the employee to sign a release form accepting the sum and thereby avoiding a court case during which you would have to prove the cause of the dismissal.

“As difficult as it can be, it is important to be very clear with your words,” says Goldsborough. “The employee needs to know why they are being dismissed, and they need to know that the decision is final.”

Additionally, Goldsborough suggests advising the employee to seek legal advice before signing the release form.

Finally, as important as it is to be rigorous and clear for legal reasons, you can also demonstrate compassion at the time of dismissal.

“I’ve seen employers terminate staff by mail. That just isn’t right,” says Goldsborough. “You need to remember that the employee you have just terminated is a person with pride and with responsibilities. Try to do something kind. For example, if the employee took the bus to work, pay for a cab ride home. It’s a small gesture, but an appropriate thing to do when the employee has just been through a traumatic event.”

For more information about laws governing termination in Manitoba, see the Government of Manitoba’s Employment Standards website at http://www.gov.mb.ca/labour/standards/index.html.


By Stu Slayen

Posted March 2016



The information contained here is intended for general information purposes only. Any reliance on the information is at the user’s own risk. The Manitoba Federation of Non-Profit Organizations, its writers, and its interview subjects make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, or suitability of the information shared in MFNPO newsletters or on MFNPO websites. Readers are urged to seek independent professional advice before taking actions based on the information shared in MFNPO newsletters or on MFNPO websites.

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