Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Layoff or fire an employee

I need to let go of my employee for various reasons. Is it w newnjsolo01/30/17
I think it really depends on why you're ending this persons greenhorn01/30/17
I want to give the employee plenty of time to find a new job newnjsolo01/30/17
I empathize with your best intentions -- its never easy to f mrtor01/31/17
Thank you. newnjsolo01/31/17
depends on: A) do you need the employee? (e.g. for a smoot dingbat01/30/17
It feels cold, but I can't imagine letting an employee go wi uknownvalue01/30/17
It's not an easy decision to let go either. I have given man newnjsolo01/30/17
If you're going to pay severance and it's better for your bu sjlawyer01/30/17
This. Plus, if the soon-to-be former employee harbors ANY r pauperesq01/30/17
keep in mind that in NJ, you will be paying part of the unem dingbat01/30/17
Give them notice at 5:01 p.m. on Friday. Have someone el isthisit01/30/17
In the case of wanting to terminate an employee, giving 2 we qdllc01/31/17
NO! You don't give notice when you let someone go, regardle patenttrollnj01/31/17
If you want to terminate the employee due to not cutting the cocolawyer01/31/17
Agreed. Know what you are going to say ahead of time and tak mrtor01/31/17
I certainly would not include a family member. I would have cocolawyer01/31/17
do you want to be responsible for personal property going mi dingbat01/31/17
This is standard practice at almost every large law firm. If cocolawyer01/31/17
In an ideal world, you would have HR there. However, OP soun mrtor02/01/17
tell them into the first week of the month they have five da whiteguyinchina01/31/17

newnjsolo (Jan 30, 2017 - 12:11 pm)

I need to let go of my employee for various reasons. Is it wise to give a short notice like 2 weeks notice or give 2 months so the employee can have time to look for another job? Do you give 2 weeks notice when you fire an employee?

I am inclined to give 2 months but some people say once you give the notice, the relationship will go sour, better to give 2 weeks or severance pay and show the door immediately.

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greenhorn (Jan 30, 2017 - 12:23 pm)

I think it really depends on why you're ending this persons employment and your relationship with this employee. It can go a few different ways, and its hard to tell how this employee will react. Only you, and/or this individuals direct supervisors can make that judgment call.

Are you suggesting to keep this person on for 2 months so as to aid in a transition or so that the employee can have plenty of time to find a new job ?

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newnjsolo (Jan 30, 2017 - 12:35 pm)

I want to give the employee plenty of time to find a new job.

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mrtor (Jan 31, 2017 - 9:25 am)

I empathize with your best intentions -- its never easy to fire someone. However, the last thing you want is an angry, resentful, or neglectful employee in a small law firm. They could cause a lot of damage, known or unknown, in a very short amount of time -- from scheduling to statute of limitations to filing and client contact. Your kind heart could end up costing you business or result in a malpractice claim. It just isn't worth the risk. You should cut them loose immediately.

Plus, few employees actually want to stick around after they receive notice of termination. Its as awkward for them as it is for you.

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newnjsolo (Jan 31, 2017 - 10:55 am)

Thank you.

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dingbat (Jan 30, 2017 - 1:15 pm)

depends on:
A) do you need the employee? (e.g. for a smooth transition)
B) do you trust the employee?

If you don't need him/her, I think it's better to show the door immediately but to give them 2 weeks (or more) severance pay. That way they can actually dedicate their time to looking for a new job

Just as generally you don't want to stick around after giving your notice, you don't want them sticking around after they're terminated either. But there are plenty of exceptions both ways, and if you trust s/he will still do a good job, feel free to keep him/her around longer.

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uknownvalue (Jan 30, 2017 - 2:04 pm)

It feels cold, but I can't imagine letting an employee go with any notice. Tell them on Friday and present them with a generous severance and prepared letter of recommendation. But even the most reasonable people will be emotionally shocked at losing their employment.

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newnjsolo (Jan 30, 2017 - 2:16 pm)

It's not an easy decision to let go either. I have given many opportunities but the employee does not fit to work at a law office. I feel like babysitting the employee, reminding same things over and over.

Do you think giving a choice would be wise like either take a severance pay or stick around couple months?

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sjlawyer (Jan 30, 2017 - 2:20 pm)

If you're going to pay severance and it's better for your business, I'd just stick to that. If s/he's getting the salary one way or the other, severance is better for everyone involved.

Ha - imagine that awkward moment where you're approached because s/he needs a half day for an interview elsewhere. What if it's a firm who you know and like and think it might be a bad idea. Best to keep yourself out of it and give a clean break. If money/schedules aren't an issue - rip the bandaid off. Sounds like you're giving him/her a fair shake anyway.

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pauperesq (Jan 30, 2017 - 2:49 pm)

This. Plus, if the soon-to-be former employee harbors ANY resentment from being canned, you're just giving him/her additional time to sabotage your business.

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dingbat (Jan 30, 2017 - 3:42 pm)

keep in mind that in NJ, you will be paying part of the unemployment benefits, so you might want to think twice about giving any significant severance package.
As much as I hate saying this, unless your contract says otherwise, I'm pretty sure you don't have to give any severance at all.

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isthisit (Jan 30, 2017 - 4:44 pm)

Give them notice at 5:01 p.m. on Friday.

Have someone else with you as a witness when you tell them the bad news.

Losing your job is a shock but you can lessen the blow by offering a generous severance and a letter of recommendation.

If you let them know with plenty of time than I can guarantee that their last 2 weeks will be their least productive. If they hold any ill-will towards you than they may steal forms or wreck your files before leaving.

It sucks but the best thing to do is show them the door and send them off with a parting gift bag (severance and letter of recommendation).

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qdllc (Jan 31, 2017 - 11:33 am)

In the case of wanting to terminate an employee, giving 2 week's notice is risky. If you are going to lay off an employee (for economic reasons), it's not as bad. Job loss happens, but it's the same flawed practice of showing someone the door the instant they give notice that they are moving on to another job. If the work relationship is positive, why toss them just for announcing that they are moving on? If the relationship is negative, that's a different matter.

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patenttrollnj (Jan 31, 2017 - 11:45 am)

NO! You don't give notice when you let someone go, regardless of the reason.

You lock him out of the system BEFORE he gets to work. You stand by the door waiting for him to arrive, and then you escort him directly to your office. You tell him to pack his stuff, and be sure to observe him as he packs. Then, you walk him to the door, collect his keys and wish him well.

This may sound draconian, but that's what you have to do. It actually protects THEM as well as you and your office. Even if some file goes missing after the fact, the ex-employee is protected from any possible accusation because he was supervised during the termination.

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cocolawyer (Jan 31, 2017 - 11:47 am)

If you want to terminate the employee due to not cutting the grade, they are probably already aware they are on the chopping block. If that is the case you need to bring them into your office. Schedule it on a Friday at 4:30 pm. Let them know that you are going a different direction and it just isn't working out. Make sure you have there last check ready for them and tell them that their personal effects will be mailed to their residence.

When you truly fire someone you don't give them notice. You notice them 5 minutes before they leave the building forever.

If you are "laying off" due to budgetary constraints that may be a different conversation, but you should still cut the cord. If my name is not on the top of pleadings and I was told in one way or another that I am being "s&*$ canned" I would likely give a flying F*$! after that point.

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mrtor (Jan 31, 2017 - 11:59 am)

Agreed. Know what you are going to say ahead of time and take control of the conversation. The last thing you want to do is stumble over your words and potentially open yourself up to litigation. I also think it would be wise to have another person there if at possible (Family member? Another attorney friend?). It will defuse the risk of any potential escalation and afford you additional credibility if he makes some type of claim against you.

As for personal effects, I would have a couple of boxes available and assist the employee after you finish speaking with him. There is no need to leer over him or mail them. Simply help the guy get his stuff and get on on his way.

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cocolawyer (Jan 31, 2017 - 2:43 pm)

I certainly would not include a family member. I would have an HR representative there.

Regarding mailing his property versus boxing up then and there....mail it to them. You want a fired employee off the premises as fast as humanly possible. They could make a scene, destroy company moral etc. If you insist on the box up then and there method have his things boxed up while he is in your office. When he leaves the office his things will be ready to grab and go. You then have someone "assist" him to the parking lot with his things. Again you want them off the premises as soon as possible.

I get it you want to be nice. I work with everyone that is my friends too and it would be rough to fire them, especially if they have family (that rough). Just don't deny their unemployment benefit's and be a good reference for him at his next job. I 100% understand the need, but unless you trust this person 100% you would really be opening yourself up. I wouldn't do anything to harm my employers because they are great employers (aside from it just sucking in general to be in family law). But that type of situation is going to be few and in between. Don't risk it.

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dingbat (Jan 31, 2017 - 3:11 pm)

do you want to be responsible for personal property going missing?
It takes just as much time to watch as the employee boxes sh*t up as it does to box it up yourself. let the employee do it so there's no claim that you didn't return something

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cocolawyer (Jan 31, 2017 - 4:35 pm)

This is standard practice at almost every large law firm. If you are worried about a $10 dollar picture frame then you are in the wrong industry

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mrtor (Feb 1, 2017 - 10:41 am)

In an ideal world, you would have HR there. However, OP sounds like a solo. He's not going to have an HR representative. Practically speaking, either a family member or friend is probably all he has available. You want a witness, any witness, over no witness.

I don't think OP has to worry about a scene given the size of his office. I think it would be prudent to help the guy box up his personal effects and help him move everything out to his car. Obviously, if the fired employee makes a scene, it would wise to escort him out immediately. However, most times people accept the inevitable and leave without issue. Most fired employees want to stay in good graces in the hope of a recommendation if a future employer would call the firm.

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whiteguyinchina (Jan 31, 2017 - 11:00 pm)

tell them into the first week of the month they have five days to wrap up their work, and that they have money coming in until end of the month. its three weeks to find a new job.

hanging on a deadweight never ever works out. make it quick and clean.

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