Global HR 8 min

Termination resources pack for US-based HR professionals

Written by Barbara Matthews
April 29, 2024
Barbara Matthews


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For HR personnel, terminating an employee can pose significant potential legal problems. It’s also usually a highly sensitive process, taking an emotional toll on both the HR staffer and the employee.

This is why it’s important to have the right support and termination resources on hand. 

In this article, we’ll provide a variety of helpful materials, suggestions, and links, allowing you to manage the termination process fairly and more effectively. We’ll also provide some useful resources that you can share with the employee being terminated.

Termination resources for HR staff 

When letting employees go, HR staff are responsible for ensuring the process is legally compliant, and handled with empathy and professionalism. 

As such, the following resources may be particularly relevant and helpful:

Whether you’re dealing with involuntary or voluntary terminations, the first requirement is to remain compliant with the relevant legal requirements. 

Here are several important legal resources for HR professionals:

Federal resources

Federal laws such as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provide guidelines on wages, hour standards, and record-keeping.

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act is also applicable to employers during mass layoffs and plant closings. Two handy resources regarding this act are the Worker’s Guide (which can be shared with recently terminated employees) and the Employer’s Guide.

In addition, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) protects employees from discriminatory treatment, which may be relevant in some situations.

State resources

Federal laws are important but they are often superseded by state employment laws. As a result, it’s important to be aware of state-specific legislation. For instance, some states require you to pay accrued-but-unused vacation pay upon termination, while others don’t. 

To better understand the termination requirements in your employee’s state, check out our US State Explorer.

Having access to competent legal counsel — whether in-house or outsourced — is crucial. Legal experts can navigate the intricate web of employment laws and provide advice tailored to the circumstances behind each termination. 

HR professionals should consult with their company’s legal department or an external employment lawyer when drafting or reviewing termination policies and procedures to prevent any unexpected problems in the termination process.

Ethics advisors

Resources such as industry-specific HR associations or ethics boards can provide guidelines for conducting layoffs ethically and responsibly.

HR partners

If you work with a HR partner like Remote, we can advise on the legality of the termination and ensure that you are fully compliant with all state and federal employment laws.

Internal resources

If you haven’t already, it’s advisable to create a semi-standardized set of internal communication templates and guidelines, depending on the nature of the termination.

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You should also have a termination checklist on hand to ensure a fair and consistent experience for your employees.

Having this documentation in place helps to reduce pressure in potentially stressful situations, and mitigate any accusations of unfair treatment.

Outplacement services 

If you’re having to lay off people, you can refer them to outplacement service providers. They support recently terminated employees in their transition to new employment.

These firms are usually locally based, so research the organizations in your (or your employees’) area. Build positive relationships with them and establish partnerships so that, if layoffs do occur, you’re well-prepared.

Professional development training

Firing someone from their job is not a pleasant experience, and it doesn’t come easy to most people — even seasoned HR staff. That’s why it’s important to train (and retrain), and to ensure that you handle termination situations with empathy and professionalism.

Here are some areas where courses and resources may be helpful:

Emotional intelligence (EQ)

EQ workshops, online courses, and coaching can help HR staff better navigate the emotional impact of layoffs. This includes managing your own emotions as well as effectively supporting those who are laid off.

Delivering difficult news

Specialized training programs that focus on how to deliver difficult news can also be a great resource. These programs often cover topics like communicating with empathy, managing personal emotions, and handling adverse reactions from employees being laid off with poise and professionalism.

Change management

Understanding the principles of change management can help you manage the broader organizational impacts of terminations and layoffs. Resources like Prosci’s change management toolkit or Kotter’s change management principles can be particularly useful in this context.

Conflict resolution

Training in conflict resolution can help you better manage any disputes or heightened emotions that may arise during the termination process.

Internal support networks

Having an internal support system in place for those involved in handling terminations can help ease the emotional toll. This support could include debriefing sessions, peer support groups, or even access to counseling services.

Termination feedback mechanisms

If appropriate, it’s a good idea to hold exit interviews with terminated employees. This kind of feedback can provide you with valuable insights for handling such processes in the future.

Termination resources for employees 

If your employee is being involuntarily terminated (i.e., they are being laid off), you should aim to provide as much support as possible. There are several resources you can look to provide, such as:

Outplacement services

As mentioned, these services are designed to help laid-off employees transition to new jobs. They typically include career coaching, resume writing assistance, interview preparation, and job search strategies. Some outplacement firms may also offer workshops and networking opportunities.

Unemployment benefits guidance

Providing clear and concise information on how to apply for unemployment benefits can be extremely helpful, especially in the short term. You can prepare a simple guide that explains the process, lists eligibility criteria, and provides contact information for local unemployment services.

Recommendations and references

If your employee is being laid off, the least you can do is provide a strong recommendation letter that they can use in their job search. Make sure to provide some context to the termination, and give a positive endorsement.

Career counseling 

Information about local career counseling services and workshops can be beneficial, especially for those who might be considering a career change or need guidance on their job search strategy.

Skills development

Resources for upskilling or reskilling can speed up the job search process for laid-off employees, especially in a rapidly changing job market. These could include online courses, certification programs, or adult education classes. As a starting point, websites like Coursera, Udemy, and LinkedIn Learning offer a wide range of courses to suggest to terminated employees.

Networking groups and professional associations

Encourage laid-off employees to engage with professional networks and associations in their field. Networking can give them new job opportunities and peer support during this time.

Financial planning services

Losing a job can be financially stressful. Providing terminated employees with information on financial counseling, budgeting, and managing finances during their unemployment can be potentially helpful.

Mental health resources

Terminations can also take a toll on an employee’s mental health. Sharing information about mental health services, such as counseling, support groups, or stress management workshops, can help manage this stress. 

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) often offer such services.

Health insurance options

Information on how to maintain or get health insurance after a job loss, including details about COBRA, Marketplace insurance under the Affordable Care Act, or state health insurance programs, can be extremely helpful.

Community resources

Where possible, you can provide additional support by sharing local community resources such as job fairs, unemployment support groups, or state employment agencies. 

Company alumni networks

If your company has an alumni network, encourage terminated employees to join. These networks can be a source of job leads and provide these employees with a sense of community and support.

HR departments that offer these resources can help ease the transition for terminated employees, demonstrating a continued commitment to their wellbeing. This compassionate approach helps the individuals affected, and knowing that their colleagues are being supported can even improve morale among your remaining employees.

Termination resources: build your own pack

Employee terminations are never easy, but by creating and using a well-rounded set of resources — and following the best practices described above — you can execute this delicate task with fairness and integrity. 

The termination process can also go a lot more smoothly if you’re working with a global HR partner, like Remote. We can advise on the legality of terminations wherever your employees are based, and ensure that the entire process is handled professionally and compassionately.

Our centralized, all-in-one platform also makes it simple to calculate and handle final paychecks and other HR tasks in full compliance with the employee’s local tax and employment laws.

To learn more about how we can help, speak to one of our friendly experts today.

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