In a year when so many businesses have been negatively impacted by the pandemic, the issue of whether, and when, to execute terminations may be top of mind for many employers. Although it might be tempting for some to clean house in preparation for the new year, employers should think twice about terminating employees during the holiday season, wrote Todd Stanton and Amanda Farahany of Barrett & Farahany on December 11, 2020 edition of the Fulton County Daily Report article.
Employers should keep in mind that employees may also be under pressure to meet their own year-end financial goals and are more likely to feel as if they are being treated unfairly when facing slim chances of finding another job before the new year. Although the attorneys observe the trend from different vantage points, the co-authors agree on this: employees who are terminated around the holidays are more apt to reach out to a lawyer.
Poor planning and failure to execute
It is not uncommon for employers to internally recognize the need to terminate a non-performing employee months in advance, only to delay the actual discharge until the eleventh hour. Employers are generally putting themselves at greater risk by delaying termination, the co-authors note. The longer the relationship drags on, the more complicated the separation is likely to be. Complicated employment relationships are fertile ground for discrimination and wrongful termination suits. Creating a plan and executing a termination in accordance with that plan are basic best practices, advise Stanton and Farahany.
If you must fire someone in the last six weeks of the year, consider putting together an attractive severance package. Providing an extension of wages and health insurance can make a big difference in how an ex-employee feels about the termination and the relationship overall. Whether you fire the employee in December or wait until January, the attorneys agree that documentation of the decision-making process is important any month of the year.
In one way or another, everyone is experiencing a heightened level of stress and anxiety related to the COVID-19 pandemic. For employees, the fear of facing the pandemic without health insurance is likely to be a motivating factor in their decision to reach out to an employment attorney. Farahany and Stanton note that this year, in particular, health insurance coverage may play an outsized role in whether an employee decides to accept a proposed severance package.
You can read the entire article on the Fulton County Daily Report website (subscription required).