Employer Forum Recap: Dismissal Done Right (May 2017)

Introduced in 2016, Kent Employment Law’s quarterly Employer Forums are an in-house resource for forward-thinking business owners and HR professionals.

Our most recent Forum, hosted as always by lawyer Trevor Thomas, took place on May 30. The topic this time was a particularly challenging one: how to end the employment relationship.

Leading the discussion were Lindsey Taylor, in-house employment legal counsel at lululemon, and Rob Kaiser, coach, consultant, and culture creator at Revivae. Lindsey and Rob provided thoughtful insight on the three phases of the termination process (planning, implementation and follow-up), Trevor offered a legal perspective, and our guests arrived prepared to share ideas on how to improve the termination process.

For those who weren’t able to join us, we asked Trevor to share some takeaways from the morning. Here are his top 3:

1. A properly-drafted employment contract establishes the parameters of the employment relationship. It ensures that both employer and employee are fully-informed about what to expect throughout their relationship and, particularly, in the event of a termination. It is also important to keep the contract current. Lindsey referred to the employment contract as a “live document”, meaning that it should accurately reflect changes in the employee’s status, position and responsibilities.

2. Planning for the termination meeting requires answering the following questions:

  • Who will conduct the meeting? Whoever you choose should be knowledgeable about why the termination is happening and have the “soft skills” to speak respectfully to the employee.
  • Where will the meeting take place? Given the sensitive and sometimes highly-emotional nature of termination meetings, privacy is important. If your office does not have a private meeting space, find out whether your building has one you can use.
  • What do you need in the meeting room? At a minimum, you should have the termination letter and the employee’s ROE (record of employment). You may also want to have a draft reference letter available. A box of tissues and a glass of water are also always a good idea.
  • What resources can you offer the dismissed employee? While some employers provide outplacement services, some of these services help only with the absolute basics, such as preparing a resume or how to use LinkedIn. When it comes to transition support, we strongly encourage employers to seriously consider the individual needs of its employees. As Rob reminded us, a 20-year employee will require a deeper level of emotional counselling than one with two years of service with the organization. Think about what services will provide actual value to the dismissed employee.

3. Use the dismissal process as an opportunity to demonstrate your company’s values and how it treats its employees. A process that is built on honesty, fairness and respect may help the employee overcome the loss of his or her job sooner.

If you missed our May Forum, you’re in luck – we will be providing these opportunities to support and learn from your peers (and our lawyers) on a regular basis. The next event in this quarterly series happens in September 2017. Stay tuned for details!

In the meantime…Have questions about a dismissal? Contact us!


NOT LEGAL ADVICE. Information made available on the Kent Employment Law website in any form is for information purposes only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. You should not rely on, or take or fail to take any action, based upon this information. Never disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking legal advice because of something you have read on this website. One of our lawyers would be pleased to discuss any specific legal concerns you may have.

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