How to Fire Rubbish Employees

Ok, so Bonfire night is nearing and you may be getting hot under the collar for other reasons than the heap of wood you have burning in your garden.

Every company goes through the issue of having to fire employees because they are not performing but this can be a difficult thing for managers to do. Here are some good tips on how to approach firing an employee and what to look out for.

Firing someone is never pleasant, but sometimes you have no other option when you have a poorly performing employee.

There are certainly right and wrong ways to go about firing someone. Get it wrong, and you could cause unnecessary heartache for the both of you or worse, end up in court!

A firing should always be the last step after you have carried out various performance reviews.

Tell them   

Firstly you need to warn them that their performance is not meeting standards and that they are risking termination and what they can do to prevent this.

If it comes time to terminate them, you’ll need to be able to present specific data to back up your decision.

You should accompany your original warnings with realistic goals that are actually measurable against the work they carry out.


You should never do the firing in a public place. While it might sound nicer, doing something like taking a person out to lunch and firing them is never a good idea.

A conference room works best as this is not their daily work area. That way you can have the meeting privately, then leave when the conversation is over.

Get a Witness

You must have a witness present during the meeting in case the employee threatens retaliation and to witness how it was conducted.

While you’re having the conversation, you should also arrange for someone else to change any important company passwords that your former employee may have had access to, as well as cancel their access to any company programs, emails or information.

Show Compassion

You should, of course, be compassionate, but never create a cover story because he or she hasn’t been direct enough with the employee about the problems earlier. This will not be a problem as long as you set measurable improvement targets for the employee earlier.

Just stick to the raw facts about their performance and their failure to live up to specific standards.

Don’t drag it on

Keep the meeting short and sweet, and make it absolutely clear that there is no room for discussion on the matter.

You should keep the conversation strictly on performance.

If the employee refuses to accept what you’re saying, keep emphasizing that the decision has been made and it is irreversible.

What they are owed 

After the conversation is over, you should brief them on any important information related to their termination, such as details of their benefits, unemployment options, and final paycheck.

There is not usually a good reason for the terminated employee to stick around after you’ve fired them so let them go home.

Schedule a time before or after your office usually opens for them to return and gather their things with relative privacy (under your supervision, of course).

Legal Stuff

 A firing can turn into a sticky situation if the employee decides they want to sue you over it. Here are several ways you can make protect yourself from legal action:

  • If you’re not doing it already, be sure to implement clauses in your employment contracts that give you ownership of company data, so you don’t have to fight terminated employees for any important information they may have.
  • Always record your “warning conversations”so that you have hard evidence supporting your reasons for letting them go which has been signed and dated by both of you at the meetings.
  • Again, have a witness present during the conversation who can account for your actions and prevent an angry employee from falsely accusing you of wrongful behaviour.


Friday is not Fire day

Never fire an employee on a Friday.     

You don’t want them to go home and stew about it. You want a quick transition from the employee to be able to look for a new job and contact employers or agencies.