Establishing Hiring and Firing Protocols


A critical step when building a business is hiring employees to help make your vision a reality. That being said, there are responsibilities that come with bringing employees onto your team. Employment requires, among other things, legal action, insurance, and policies. Improper or nonexistent employment policies within your business have the potential to land you in some serious hot water.

As a business owner, a growth mindset is essential to ongoing success.  You know that to grow you’ll need to hire the right people and incentivize them to stay. A healthy growth strategy should start with a clear hiring (and firing) plan. While you want to focus on bringing on the proper talent to meet the needs of your business, it is not only wise but essential to be prepared in the event that a partnership goes south and you need to release an employee from their position. Hiring slowly and firing quickly are industry standard for employee interaction, but there are right and wrong ways to hire and fire.  Firing someone well can result in a mutually respectful parting that leads to better opportunities, and future referrals.. You may have employees that choose to leave willingly to pursue other ventures, offboarding those employees is equally as important to your company’s growth and health.

As with any relationship, it is best to set clear boundaries and make plans for all possible outcomes at the outset.  Clear protocols keep everyone aligned.

Hiring Protocols

Hiring employees to join your company is an exciting step in the growth of your business. While employment adds a level of additional expenses and risk to your business, it’s necessary for the ongoing development of your team and increased capacity for work. There are multiple aspects to consider in bringing on the talent that suits the needs of your business. Our tips below are here to help you identify factors to consider when adding employees to your business.

Job Descriptions

Ensure that you set clear expectations for potential employees before hiring them. Creating a specific job description to list all of the responsibilities that they can expect to take on. Even though an employee’s job may vary from the initially quoted job description, being clear and specific from the start helps you both understand what to expect when they join your team.

In addition to an overview of their job responsibilities, the job description must include what an employee can expect from a benefits and compensation perspective. The dollar amounts do not need to be publicly stated but the description should give prospective applicants a range. Then, you can negotiate finer details when making an official offer.

Another aspect that a job description should include is the condition of the work expected in the open position. By this, we mean whether or not the position is exempt and how many hours they will be expected to work. If your expectation is for the employee to work only part-time versus a full 40-hour workweek, that should be clearly stated at the outset in the official job description.

Interview Process

Conducting interviews provides an opportunity to screen applicants before giving them the thumbs up to join your team. The questions and conversations that you discuss in an interview with an applicant should be tailored towards your business needs and expectations. This is your opportunity to get to know the person on a more personal level rather than simply reading their resume.  Consider using a personality profile test like DiSC, PREP, or Myers-Briggs to better understand your candidates’ strengths and management preferences.

Reference Checks

Checking references allows you to get insight from others into the good (and not as good) of your potential new hire. The goal of a reference check is to develop an external opinion from someone that has interacted with the applicant in the past. Ideally, this insight will give you an unbiased perspective of what it might be like working with the applicant.

Job Offers

Upon making the decision to hire a candidate, the decision-maker will issue an official offer to the applicant. This offer should contain the details of the position being offered including their intended exempt status, pay rate, intended hours to be worked, and the position title being offered. At this point, some businesses may choose to conduct background checks on applicants. Background checks require the willingness of the applicant to participate but may offer additional insight to the employer on what their history entails. Employers are able to clarify that a job offer is pending the clearance of the completed background check. Doing so provides them with the ability to revoke the offer should a matter of concern arise from their background check.

Firing Protocols

As we mentioned, ensuring that your business has proper firing protocols in place is imperative when bringing employees onto your team. Should you find the need to end an employee’s employment, there are proper steps to take to ensure that you’re not slapped with a wrongful termination lawsuit or similar repercussions.

There are multiple factors that should be considered and determined when establishing firing procedures for your business. They include the following:

Who holds the final say in the decision to terminate an employee

If you’re a small business owner and there is one single point person running the business, it may be an easy decision to identify yourself as the final decision-maker. Where this might get a bit more complicated is in companies that have multi-level management in place. At that point, it may not make much sense for the CEO of a business to be involved in every individual firing decision. In these cases, identifying an HR specialist or resource to support final decisions may be an exceptional option.

Which departments/individuals should be alerted

Similar to the above, this will vary depending on the size and complexity of your business. In a small or medium-sized business setting, the business owner or decision-maker may be the only person necessary to be involved. They likely hold the responsibility of adjusting legal employment and processing the termination.

In most larger companies the HR department holds the responsibility of processing an employee’s termination and ensuring that their final paycheck is processed correctly. State laws vary to determine how an employee has to be paid out following their termination.

The involvement of an IT representative may be helpful to ensure the cybersecurity of your business following the termination of an employee. Ensuring that the terminated employee’s access to company information has been revoked is an important step to complete before sending them on their way.

Who is present when terminating the employee

It may be helpful to include specifics about who should be present during the termination process of an employee. While termination should be a private matter between the employee and their superiors, it may be beneficial to involve a witness. In the event that a terminated employee responds to the termination in a negative manner, having a trusted witness present as a second set of eyes on the interaction can help provide protection in the event that the employee decides to pursue further action against you. It may be that those present include the employee’s direct supervisor and an HR representative or someone of higher-level management.

What items must be collected from the employee

Depending on the property and physical layout of a business, you may need to ensure that certain items are collected from terminated employees. This may include collecting key cards, access passes, computers and other equipment, and even uniforms.

Wrongful Termination

Every employer fears a wrongful termination suit. The threat of wrongful termination is largely responsible for the importance of having firing protocols in place. Regardless of the size of your business, a wrongful termination lawsuit has the potential to be detrimental to your business.

Wrongful termination is any instance where an employee is fired for reasons that are illegal or their firing is a breach of a contract. While there are not specifically laid-out laws that detail wrongful termination, wrongful termination involves any breach of state or federal employment laws.

Most states consider employees to be hired “at will,” meaning that they are choosing to continue working by their own free will and gives employers the right to terminate their employment at any point in time. This is not the case, however, under certain circumstances, such as an employee being employed under a contract.

Some examples of wrongful termination claims include the following:

  • A hostile work environment that tolerates sexual harassment
  • Race discrimination
  • Workers' compensation claim retaliation
  • Age discrimination
  • FMLA violations
  • Wage & hour disputes or unpaid overtime
  • Whistleblower retaliation
  • Pregnancy, religious, or disability discrimination

If you’re a business owner and need support or guidance in developing hiring and firing protocols in an attempt to protect the future of your business, our term of legal experts at @VirtualCounsel are prepared to help. Reach out and schedule time with us today to start a partnership with us.


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