What is the Role of HR During Employer Termination?


When an employee is terminated, human resources (HR) plays a vital role to ensure the process goes smoothly. Termination of employees is a difficult time for everyone involved, so it’s important that HR works to ensure that all employees are treated equally in the process. 

In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at how HR shapes the termination process. It is the role of human resources to guide the conversation, and ensure that the company and employee leave with minimal damage. Termination is never pleasant business, but with the help of HR, the process can become somewhat bearable. But how does HR do this? Well, there are seven steps to this process that can ensure termination happens fairly.

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HR Documents the Termination Process

There’s usually a reason for an employee being terminated, and it’s essential that employers keep track of any infractions that could lead to an employee’s dismissal. Termination is usually a last resort after everything else doesn't work. For example, let’s consider this path: 

Usually, employers will have performance reviews to see how well their employees are performing in the workplace. However, some employees will have poorer scores than others, and they will be given time to improve. If they don’t, they may receive a verbal warning, so they know they need to improve or there will be consequences. 

Poor performance reviews are only a part of this, and employees may have received verbal and/or written warnings for other reasons. These could all be related to issues in the workplace with other employees, or their general behavior at work. Due to this, with the escalation of their behavior, they may get suspended from work, either with or without pay. If their behavior at work doesn’t improve, this may then be grounds for termination. 

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HR Should Record these Incidents

Performance reviews, verbal and written warnings, and issues with the employee in question should always be documented. If there is a specific pattern emerging, the employer can observe this behavior to check if there has been any improvement in the workplace. 

If there have been any violations of the company’s policies, then there is a paper trail as evidence. It is essential that employers have a record of their employees’ behavior at work, or else they may claim that there is no grounds for termination. It is up to HR, not the employee, to keep track of the warnings they have been given. However, it is up to the employee to improve their performance at work, and change any issues with their behavior. 

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hands in the middle

HR Attempts Reconciliation

Before suspension or termination, employers should attempt to reconcile with their employees. However, HR may play a role to mediate any conflicts that may be had between management and their staff. If there have been issues between the employer and employee in the past, HR should step in to ensure that there is direct communication.

For example, if an employee needs more training, the employee should offer this. Likewise, if an employee is concerned about their wage, they should consider discussing it with them. Of course, there are some issues that may not be able to be resolved. 

However, if the issues between the employer and the employee are not resolved, it may lead to the employee being suspended or terminated. Yet this should only be done after all reconciliation has failed. 

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HR Needs to Know the Law

HR needs to be aware of the relevant local and state laws that may impact an employee’s termination. There are laws in place that protect employees from wrongful termination, and it is up to HR to understand what an employee can be terminated for. As part of this, HR needs to know any exceptions that may save an employee, and ensure that all handbooks about employment policies make sense according to current laws.


Ensuring There is No Discrimination

Due to HR knowing the laws involved, they should also be the ones to ensure there is no discrimination against any factors out of the employee’s control. They need to ensure that the employee in question is not being discriminated against and thus subject to wrongful termination. 

If there has been discrimination in the work place, it is up to HR to ensure that the employee is protected. There are numerous laws in place that protect employees, and if there is an employer discriminating against them, it needs to be brought to their attention. To ensure this, they should always keep track of all employees’ records, and the track of their employers, should the employee decide to sue.

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laptop on table

They Terminate Employment

The employers themselves will work with HR to terminate the employment of an employee. To help the process go smoothly, HR will work with the employers to conduct an exit interview and arrange for a final paycheck to be released. In some cases, they may be entitled to a severance package, especially if the termination is due to mass lay-offs. They will also ensure that the employer is protected from any lawsuits, and ensure that employees don’t sue in exchange for any specific benefits they may not be entitled to.


Post-Termination Relationship

After termination, it is up to HR to work with the former employee to help them through the process. If an employee was terminated through no fault of their own, it is up to HR to help the employee seek unemployment benefits as they search for work. It is essential that they ensure the employees have the correct paperwork and information needed, even if the employee’s relationship with the company ended on poor terms.


Final Thoughts

The termination of an employee is not an easy time for anyone in the process. HR can make the process run smoothly by ensuring the necessary paperwork is completed and playing the role of mediator. They are there to help both the employer and employee, as termination is a last resort when an employee has received numerous warnings about their performance and/or behavior.

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