What Is the Best Day to Fire an Employee?

The Timing of Employment Terminations Has Changed With Technology

A man being offered tissues as he boxes his things

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When is the best day to fire an employee, ask readers regularly? With the advances in technology and the proliferation of online job searching opportunities, the answer to this question has significantly changed over time. The emphasis on networking to find a job has also changed the job search market as has the ability to use social media to connect and build relationships. Online support for job searchers is also continuing to grow every year.

Background on Traditional Employment Termination

Traditionally, the best day to fire an employee was mid-week. This allowed the employee to launch an immediate job search, file an unemployment insurance claim, and set up dates with his or her network, all of which was difficult to do on the weekend.

Some employers always fired employees on Friday because it was convenient for payroll and the company, but not especially friendly for the employee. The fired employee would have all weekend to stew about the company and the termination and have little that he or she could do to move forward on the weekend.

It's still important to develop a solid case for firing an employee and to develop the support documentation. It's still important to communicate effectively with the employee every step of the way, from work dissatisfaction until employment termination is your best solution to correct performance issues.

The employee deserves blunt communication that progresses in the sense of urgency that is conveyed. It is unfair and unethical to blindside an employee when his or her employment is terminated. Perhaps the exact timing is always a surprise, but the reasons should have been discussed over time, at length, and in writing with the employee. No surprises welcome.

How to Fire an Employee

The employee should always know that employment termination is coming. Even in the case of layoffs, management should have been communicating the problems and issues the company was experiencing so that employees are not completely blindsided. Performance issues leading to employment termination should always be clearly understood by the employee.

A performance improvement plan (PIP) may even become your last resort communication tool in your efforts to communicate with an employee. Unfortunately, not all organizations use a PIP appropriately and so they have developed a seriously bad image. But, a PIP, used properly, is a strong performance improvement and management tool. The employee can harbor no belief that a problem is not existing.

A PIP is not always in order. For example, in the case of a poorly performing manager with a negative attitude, you may have lost confidence in his or her ability to manage. And, because of their position, the negativity affects too many other employees to wait to fire the employee.

In a second example, you and the employee's mentor have trained and retrained the employee repeatedly over three months, and the employee is still unable to perform essential elements of their job. It's time to cut them loose as you already know that the employee would fail any PIP. Don't torture the employee if you have no faith in their eventual success.

No PIP will fix these performance issues. Sometimes, it's better just to let the employee go even if you have to provide more severance pay to avoid potential lawsuits. It's cheaper for the employer in the long run.

Firing a person because they are an at-will employee leaves a lot to be desired, too, although some employers still do it.

When to Fire an Employee

Fire an employee when the decision has been made that employment termination is necessary. Preferably, this decision is made mid-week, early in the day on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.

This gives the employee some work hours during the week, and he or she doesn't feel as if they wasted their time coming to work which happens when you fire an employee on Monday.

Friday is a bad day to fire an employee since so many next steps are difficult to take on the weekend. But, some employment termination specialists suggest that firing an employee on Friday leads to fewer incidents because the employee is out of the office. You can arrange for them to pick up their possessions over the weekend instead of taking the employee back to their normal work area.

Avoid incidents and upset coworkers by asking the employee to meet you after hours to pick up their items. Obtain all company access keys or equipment, electronics, and company-owned materials before the employee leaves for home. Use this employment ending checklist for guidance.

Provide a quiet, private space if the employee is upset or crying. Always treat the employee with respect and in a dignified manner.