Compliance

Handling a termination - whatever side of the desk you sit on

Rachel Lee
October 20, 2021

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Sadly, terminations in business have to and do occur. Make no mistake, they can be an ugly, ugly procedure - whether you are being fired or you are doing the firing. Here, we look at some of the most common and basic notions regarding termination. We do so, not to insult your intelligence, but so that we can approach the more complex and specific issues - for example, if an employer is required to give a termination letter when they fire you.

Knowing all the following information may not make the process of termination any more pleasant - for either side - but it can at least mean that the process will go as smoothly as possible, meaning there is less stress caused to both parties involved. Being fired, or firing a person is inevitably unpleasant - to put it mildly, so if you can eradicate even some of that stress through knowledge, we strongly suggest you do so. 

What form can terminations take?

Termination is when one or both parties decide to cease their contractual relationship. Within the contract, that outlines that relationship, will be the terms and conditions that need to be met that allow termination to occur. In some instances, it could be that the contract, with termination wanted by both sides, is simply terminated by following the straightforward steps laid out in the agreement. However, doing so will mean that both parties mutually agree to nullify the contract. Termination of a contract that is wanted on both sides is an instance when termination can be a purely transactional activity that goes very smoothly. 

Sadly, they are not the only type. In fact, the likelihood is that you are reading this because you are researching what to do in a time when a termination is not wanted by both sides of a contract. It could be that you want to terminate a contract due to a breach of contract on one side or perhaps you believe that the other party has acted fraudulently. Or, you could annoyingly find yourself in a situation where unforeseen, outside circumstances have arisen that make it impossible for the requirements in a contract to be met. These are all instances when a contract termination can occur.

What is a wrongful termination?

Another likely reason you could be reading this blog is to get to the bottom of what a wrongful termination is. For, when talking about terminating a contract, a lot of the time, it is about terminating a worker's employment. That could be for a whole host of reasons - not always because of the behavior or actions of the employee. Wrongful termination is when the termination breaches a clause or clauses in the employment contract. Don’t get us wrong though, a whole load of employment contracts terminate because of the less than illustrious behavior of an employee. 

However, in the instances where there are grounds for a wrongful termination case, an employee may seek the services of wrongful termination lawyers. Those lawyers will be able to determine if an employer may have terminated an employee’s contract improperly. As a result, the aggrieved employee may want to seek a legal remedy. Or, an employer may seek the help of wrongful termination lawyers to prove that the employee was, in fact, legally fired. 

How to handle a termination?

Having an employment contract terminated is never pleasant. Even if you have been a very aggrieved party, it is up to both sides’ legal teams to do some digging. That digging will undoubtedly find some instances where your conduct could have been better, and as a result, it can be a very stressful situation in which to be. Handling a termination is therefore tricky, but knowing the ins and outs of the process can help relieve any anxiety. 

What happens during the termination?

An employee or an employer can be the entity that decides to terminate an employment contract. If an employee terminates the contract, it is through a resignation. However, if an employer terminates a contract, they can do so through redundancy or dismissal. Redundancy is when the employer simply reduces their workforce, and the individual in question is not dismissed due to their conduct. Sometimes, a redundancy comes with a nice healthy payout or payoff, to help soften the blow for the employee. 

A dismissal is a form of termination that can be fair or wrongful. Know the difference before you start seeking legal remedy for what you believe is a wrongful termination. 

A fair dismissal is when an employer notifies you that your conduct or capability has not met the employment contract requirements. Or perhaps, an employer has unearthed a legal reason that you can no longer work for them (like an incorrect visa, for example). If a dismissal or termination is legal and fair, an employer must tell the employee the grounds for the termination. It is best to do so in writing, though there will often be a very awkward meeting held between the two parties too.  

If you do not believe that your employer followed the full and fair procedure set out in their code of practices or your contract, you could have grounds for unfair dismissal - which is when you need to seek out help from those aforementioned wrongful termination lawyers. 

Is an employer required to give a termination letter when they fire you?

While it is often seen that an employer will provide an employee with a termination letter, legally speaking in many jurisdictions, it is not required. However, an employer will need to provide a valid reason that they can use to justify your dismissal, which is often why many employers will use a letter - regardless of whether it is legally required or not. 

Which of the following is not a valid reason for a termination of an agency by operation of law?

The reasons which are and are not valid for terminating in the eyes of the law will depend on the jurisdiction you are employed in. Each country has different laws regarding employment. Therefore, it is best to seek legal advice from a legal professional who can talk through your specific situation to ascertain whether you have been terminated legally or not. You may be lucky and live in a country where workers’ rights are a big thing for the government. You may be unlucky and live somewhere that means you will not have much of a leg to stand on. Legal advice will help you decide which category you sit (or stand) in. 

Overall takeaways to handling a termination

Handling a termination is tough. If you are the party that has had their employment terminated, you need to be sure that you have had your employment ended fairly. If not, you could have grounds for wrongful termination. However, that is not to say that it is always advisable to go down that path. 

Speaking with a lawyer will help you confirm what your legal position and standing is - and ultimately, what you have to gain or lose from making a wrongful termination claim. For, the ugly fact of the matter is, companies will often have much deeper pockets than you. You could find yourself in a seemingly never ending loop of litigation which quickly spends any funds you have for fighting your case.

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