When is the best time to fire an employee?

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So you have an employee who has not been performing! You have worked with them over the last few months and they have not responded to training, coaching, and warnings. They will have to go or it will damage the rest of the team and the business. You have no option but to let them go but when should you do this?

Should it be in the morning, afternoon, on a Friday or Monday? What if they have a birthday or holiday coming up soon? What if their partner is expecting a baby? What if it is just before Christmas, should you wait until after the holiday?

It is never easy to end the employment of anyone even if they are making life difficult for you. You are a caring employer. Even the very hardnosed manager will find it a difficult and uncomfortable thing to do. As an HR consultant we are often told how a problem employee has to go and asked how to do it. What can be done, what should be done and what is the professional and moral way to do it? Once a business has decided that this is the only course when should you say ‘you’re fired’?

There is no good time to fire someone. If you look you will find lots of reasons not to do it now. Delaying the inevitable may lead to more problems of stress and anxiety for the manager and that will have an effect on their own performance whilst the underperforming employee carries on having a drag effect on the organisation.

Then there is the question of whether they are likely to file for unfair dismissal. So have you followed all the relevant procedures? It will be costly if you have not. Ask HR what to do and follow their advice.

First make sure that the line manager and the HR department, whether internal or outsourced, are involved in the process from the start. When extra training and particularly warnings are necessary, they should be advising you of what to do if this approach does not work.

Then and only then set a date and stick to it. Each individual and their circumstances will be different. Knowing how this will affect them is important in considering when is right. Before or after the Christmas holiday will depend on what is best for them. You have to make that call and it may not be right but having made a decision, stick to it. There is no right answer.

If the dismissal is not immediate, set a time and date which will allow the HR consultant and the manager to prepare but bear in mind that the employee will worry about that meeting. Consider when the employee should be told of the meeting. Consider what the effect of knowing that the meeting is coming up will have.

Remember that as the manager or business owner although you should be considerate and sensitive to the employee, you need to look after the business as a whole. Be decisive but make sure you have followed the correct procedures so that the business is protected from the risk of tribunals and the cost that will be accrued.

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