Guide to sacking an employee

Like it or not, there may come a time when you have to dismiss an employee and this guide shows you the best and most painless way of accomplishing this unpleasant task.

  1. When you first become dissatisfied with an employee, tell the employee so in writing. (Step one of the standard procedure.)
  2. Meet with the employee to discuss the problem and to explore constructively how things might be improved. (Step two of the standard procedure.)
  3. Consider whether the matter can be resolved informally, for example, through training for the employee or extra supervision of their work. Inform the employee of how you expect them to improve, over what time period and when their progress will be reviewed.
  4. If an informal solution is not possibly, take formal action. You should normally follow these stages: first written warning, final written warning. Inform your employee that they have the right to appeal against your decision. (Step two of the standard procedure.) Written warnings must set out the nature of the problem, the improvement or change you require and the consequences for the employee of failing to comply. At each stage, you should meet again with the employee to give them a chance to present their case. A written warning should be disregarded after a specified period without further action (say, six months or 12 for a final warning).
  5. If the employee requests an appeal, arrange a meeting to hear the appeal. Tell the employee your decision. (Step three of the standard procedure.)
  6. Repeat steps 2 to 5 above as necessary.
  7. If the problem persists, you may decide to dismiss the employee or possibly offer them an alternative job. Make sure you give the correct notice. You must again follow the standard three-step procedure, so give your reasons for dismissal/transfer/demotion in writing, meet with the employee and give them the opportunity to appeal.


Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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