How to conduct a termination meeting


A wise HR professional once said: “If you must swallow a frog, swallow it whole.” In reference to an employee termination meeting, that means keep it brief. This is not the time to re-chew and regurgitate prior performance discussions. The actual termination meeting should be standardized and brief—generally no more than 10-15 minutes.

Ask another member of management or HR to be present at the meeting to serve as a witness, and in certain situations, to ensure workplace safety. The context of the termination meeting should include the following:

  • A concise statement that employment is ending today. If you have followed a progressive discipline process, then mention the steps that led to the final employment decision.
  • Allow the employee to briefly vent any concerns, particularly if this is a single egregious act, as opposed to a progressive issue that has been fully aired previously.
  • Restate that the decision has been made.
  • Go through your termination checklist to ensure that all steps are followed in accordance with company policy and employment laws such as final paycheck and unused accrued vacation, unemployment insurance notice, COBRA notice, building keys, credit card or other company property, how references will be handled, etc.
  • Escort the employee to his/her workstation to collect personal belongings, or inform him or her that the items will be mailed to the home address on file. Make sure the employee promptly leaves the workplace.

Once the termination meeting is complete, it’s a good idea to inform staff that the employee is no longer employed with the company. If co-workers raise questions about the reasons for the employee’s departure, remember to protect the confidentiality of any personnel matter. Inform them that you would not share that information with others, just as you would protect their confidentiality in any employee relations matters.


Why employee feedback is important to your business


Encouraging feedback from your employees can help strengthen your business. But unfortunately, employee feedback is not always easy to come by.

Some time ago, while leading a workshop on receiving difficult feedback, we shared how to effectively respond to criticism, particularly when it’s the kind of criticism that’s hurtful, insulting, or in-error. Learning how to respond positively to that correction, even when it’s delivered tactlessly or mean-spiritedly, can bring great professional and personal benefits.

At a pause in the presentation, a hand shot up with a question. “Uh, have you done this with our managers yet?”

This question is not unusual. In fact, someone will ask it without fail. Most of the room will then nod in agreement. If we respond with, “No, we haven’t done this with management,” someone will usually follow up with, “Well… can you?”

It’s not hard to read between the lines. Employees are essentially saying, “I have difficult feedback of my own I’d like to provide to my manager, but I’m not comfortable” (i.e. I’m not sure it would be well received). You may be thinking the same thing. Perhaps you have sincere concerns you would like to address, if only you could be confident that the reaction would be positive.

Our team is experienced in preparing and delivering employee satisfaction surveys, focus groups, coaching sessions and goal development. Contact us for more information.


It’s time for a yearly audit


As a valued HR Business Partner, we encourage you to engage Sierra HR Partners to conduct a comprehensive audit of your employment policies and procedures to ensure legal compliance and best practices.

This consultation takes approximately three hours to meet with one of our certified consultants at your place of business to review and discuss the following issues:

  • Personnel files
  • Form I-9
  • Hiring
  • Performance management
  • Terminations
  • Training
  • Timekeeping and pay
  • Employee classifications
  • Paid time off
  • Leaves of absence
  • Safety
  • Required notices/posters
  • Other key policies

Following the completion of the HR audit, you will be provided with a report highlighting our findings and recommendations.

We look forward to partnering with you on this project whether it’s your first audit or it’s been a few years since your last.


Premium pay: On-call/standby employees


Did you know certain types of premium pay may be due to employees when they are not working? One example of premium pay is on-call/standby pay.

When an employee is asked to be on-call and the employer places certain restrictions on his/her freedom to engage in personal business, the on-call time may be compensable. This time may be paid at a different rate than the employee would receive for working.

This type of premium pay is not considered hours worked, and does not count toward calculations for overtime or vacation accrual. Failure to provide premium payments could lead to a claim for waiting time penalties and attorney’s fees, so it is important to understand when they are triggered and how much is due.

Also, be sure to stay in compliance with Labor Code section 226 by separating actual hours worked from any premium hours on your employees’ paycheck stubs.


What is considered a disability in the state of California?


According to the U.S. Census Bureau Americans with Disabilities 2010 Report, there are 56.7 million people living with a disability in the United States, which works out to nearly 1 in 5 Americans.

With such a large number, it is likely that your workplace encounters applicants and employees with some form of a disability.

In California, disability is defined by the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) as an actual or perceived physical or mental disability or medical condition that is disabling, potentially disabling or perceived to be disabling or potentially disabling, which limits a major life activity.

A few examples of covered disabilities include:

  • Anatomical loss
  • Reproductive
  • Digestive
  • Mental illness
  • Learning disabilities
  • AIDS
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer

If you employ five or more employees then you are considered a covered employer under the FEHA, which means that you cannot discriminate or harass an applicant or employee for an actual or perceived disability.

To find out more about what is considered discrimination, give us a call. We’re available to answer any questions you may have.