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Firing an employee for poor performance...

We are about to let an employee go for plain old poor performance. How should we document this and do we need to do anything in particular on their way out? Are there docs we need them to sign? etc? We are considering giving them health benefits for an extra month so I suppose a severance agmt is in order? CA employee, BTW.


Kent Mannis
Title: Managing Editor
Company: LawRoom
(Managing Editor, LawRoom) |

When employees terminate -- are fired, laid off, or quit -- there are a number of administrative and legal requirements (in addition to optional/suggested steps) to end the employment relationship.

Briefly, any termination should involve:
--a review and documentation of the situation,
--avoiding firing the employee for an illegal reason,
--following company procedures consistently,
--taking care of administrative and housekeeping requirements, and
--conducting an exit interview.

For example, California employers usually must:
--give required notices, such as a termination notice ("change in employment relationship"), a pamphlet about unemployment benefits, and COBRA information;
--collect company property (such as keys and uniforms) or get an agreement for a payroll deduction for unreturned items, advances, and debts; and
--give a final paycheck (including all unpaid wages and accrued/unused vacation/PTO) immediately upon discharge.

There aren't documents that an employee has to sign, but a severance payment usually entitles the employer to something in return, e.g., a waiver (release) of potential employment claims. Talk to a lawyer to draft an appropriate severance agreement, or search the web, e.g., see online.

For members of LawRoom -- -- I'd suggest looking at the online course #206 How to Lawfully Terminate Employees and printing out Memo 7600 Employer's Termination Checklist. Our forms library also has the required notices, or you can try to find them online. For example, the required unemployment insurance pamphlet can be obtained by requesting LawRoom Form 9534, or on the web from the EDD at online.

Good luck!


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