Don’t Forget These Details When Firing

When you’re firing someone, you have a lot on your mind.  You’re thinking about:

  • What you’ll say
  • How you’re going to deal with your fear
  • How they might react
  • What will happen when the interview is over

Your mind is already overwhelmed, and you’re inclined to forget important details.

So, when you go into the room to do the actual firing, make sure you cover these details, because you won’t get a chance to do it later.

The last thing you want to do is call the person you’ve just fired and say, “Hey, when I fired you on Tuesday, I just forget to ask if…”

This article will help you fix all that.

Here are the details you must cover before the person leaves the premises:

  1. Pay
  2. Benefits
  3. Severance arrangements
  4. Return of company property
  5. Ongoing project arrangements
  6. Goodbyes to co-workers


You should have a cheque ready to pay the person for any outstanding wages.  This includes cash, share arrangements, or any other form of compensation you’ve agreed upon.

It also includes accrued sick days they didn’t use, and any unused vacation time as well.

Don’t wait to wind this up later on – deal with it now.

Also recognize that they won’t be terribly attentive.  They have lots to process and will forget much of what you say.  So be clear in writing about what each cheque is for and what it covers to minimize questions after.


Have a letter ready for the person that details the status of their benefits program if they have one.

The letter will tell them when benefits expire, and what they’re covered for until that time.

Severance arrangements

Depending on the role and the region you live in, severance can be very simply calculated, or it can be more complicated.

If severance arrangements are in a grey zone, or if you haven’t agreed to them in a signed employment agreement, consult a labor lawyer.

It does cost a bit of money, but will save you lots of pain in the long run.

Return of company property

Once the firing is done, you really don’t want to be showing up at the person’s doorstep and saying, “Hey, funny thing, but I forgot to ask for your company laptop back!”

They don’t want to see you.  Their spouse doesn’t want to see you.  You are not going to be part of their future.  So ask for everything you need back before they leave the premises.

Here’s a list of things you don’t want to forget to ask for:

  • Keys
  • Books
  • Computers
  • Phones
  • Badges
  • Designs
  • Customer lists
  • Credit cards
  • Uniforms
  • Tools
  • Safety equipment
  • Company files or information
  • Vehicle

You’ll be glad you checked everything off the list and don’t have to try to get somewhere down the road.

Ongoing project arrangements

If this is a senior level person, you will have to discuss where projects are currently at, and what promises have been made that need to be fulfilled.

If you’re dealing with a good person who just isn’t working out, this isn’t a problem.  They don’t want their customers left hanging either.

If you’re dealing with a bad or very angry person, it is tougher.  It’s good for them to remember that how they leave determines what you say about them to potential future employers.

Goodbyes to co-workers

What’s the best way to handle the ‘goodbyes’ that need to happen?

For certain, it’s not ideal to have them done that day.  The person is hurting and you harm their dignity by asking them to be fired and say goodbye all in the same day.

If you want them to have that opportunity, you may schedule a time when they can come at the end of the day in a couple of weeks to say formal goodbyes.

But, do address it.  If it’s a hostile firing and you don’t want them every setting foot on company property again, you don’t really need to deal with goodbyes beyond today.

But if they’re a  good person that isn’t working out, arrange a time when they can do this at a time that makes sense for everyone.

In summary:

There are many things to think about when you’re firing a person.  Here are some details you are likely to forget.  But you really don’t want to show up at their doorstep a few days later asking for their company keys back because you forgot!

Here’s a good list of details to remember when firing someone:

  1. Pay
  2. Benefits
  3. Severance arrangements
  4. Return of company property
  5. Ongoing project arrangements
  6. Goodbyes to co-workers

Man in Library

Trevor Throness is a speaker, consultant, and author of “The Power of People Skills.”  He is also co-founder and senior instructor at

Find more about “The Power of People Skills” here:

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