HR: Ways to Protect Your Business When Terming an Employee


While there is no guarantee that departing employees will not sue or seek unemployment benefits, there are steps you can take to reduce your risks.


Being able to provide documented evidence of the decision-making process and rationale behind the decision to terminate is one of the most important ways you can protect your company. 

Workplace Benefits Solutions' all-in-one HR system helps employers keep a thorough record of the circumstances leading up to an employee’s termination and the clear policies and procedures all in one easy to access place so that the employer can defend the decision during any lawsuits or other claims.

The following is a list of documents that should be included in each employee’s personnel file:


Employee handbook acknowledgment

Having your employees sign a form acknowledging that they received the handbook and understand its provisions is a must. Keep a copy of this acknowledgment in each employee’s personnel file.


A progressive discipline policy

Using a step-by-step discipline process in response to poor performance or rule violations can help employers combat unfair termination claims. Disciplinary performance discussions should be signed by the employee, and a copy should be placed in the employee’s personnel file.


Documentation of performance failure

When terminating an employee for performance issues, make sure you have documentation of performance failures and warnings.  Past performance reviews should mention performances issues to show that the termination was not motivated by discrimination.


Warnings and suspensions

Make sure that all warnings and suspensions given to employees are documented and placed in their personnel files.  Employees should sign these warnings, acknowledging that they are aware of the issues and possible consequences.


Statements for infractions

Infractions that are reported by managers and co-workers should be documented in an employee’s personnel file. The person reporting the infraction should complete a form detailing the issue, so there is documented proof, instead of having just a few notes from HR.


Record absences and tardiness

Since employers must prove misconduct, it is important for employers to record all unapproved absences and instances of tardiness in an employee’s personnel files.


Termination letter

Provide a termination letter to employees that confirms the details of the termination and what employees should know (such as COBRA eligibility or whom to put down as a contact for future references).  A copy should be kept in the employee’s personnel file.  

Save yourself time by asking Workplace Benefits Solutions for an easily customizable sample termination letter and employment termination policy.


Employment dates

The employee’s date of hire, termination date and last day should be documented in his or her personnel file. This information is especially important in the case of COBRA administration since there are many deadline and notification requirements that employers must follow.


Performance reviews

Some supervisors give employees inflated performance reviews since they are afraid that honest evaluations will damage their working relationships and employee morale. If you terminate an employee due to performance issues, but performance reviews show an average or fair rating, this could open the door for legal troubles.


Workplace posters

States require employers to post certain unemployment benefits posters at their workplace. A failure to furnish these required posters in places where they are easily visible to all employees can result in penalties for your company.


After partnering with Workplace Benefits Solutions, our clients rest easy knowing they finally have a place to keep up with compliance issues and can rely on our support when questions arise.


Joe Tallant