Supervising remote employees isn’t easy, but terminating and offboarding them is even more challenging. Laying off, terminating, or even just mutually parting ways with a worker requires certain steps to ensure HR compliance. Employers that don’t follow all applicable laws and regulations are opening themselves up to fines, complaints, lawsuits, and (in the age of the internet) a bad reputation as an employer. MP’s HR services team offers 5 tips for handling any offboarding to optimize compliance, reduce damage to employee morale, and to avoid potential damage to your reputation as an employer on sites like Glassdoor, LinkedIn, etc.
5 Tips for HR Compliance in Remote Offboardings
- Assemble the right technology: To remain compliant and make the process smooth, employers should ensure that they’ve got the tools required for an offboarding. For the virtual meeting in which they convey their decision to layoff or terminate an employee, the team members handling the process should ensure that they have an excellent internet connection and a good webcam. This would be a terrible time for a camera to cut out or for the connection to drop. Additionally, when employers part ways with a staff member, there are likely to be documents that need to be signed that day (like a Release of Claims.) Having DocuSign can help you get the documents to the employee so they can sign electronically.
- Prepare to shut off access: This is important especially when managing a remote workforce. Be ready to shut off an employee’s access to any software, systems, email, client information, etc. If the situation calls for it, it will be important to time that shutoff correctly. Turning off access too early may tip the employee off prematurely that they’re about to be terminated or laid off.
- Communication with your team: When employers lay off or fire somebody, how you communicate with your team about it is a crucial part of the process. Even if somebody is leaving of their own volition, upper management still needs to communicate with the team in the most constructive way about the subject. It’s a best practice to create a plan for how to notify everyone of the change. Especially when people are working remotely, managers will need to make a concerted effort to share the news. They should keep things calm and unemotional. The employer should avoid saying anything negative about the worker who is leaving or the circumstances they’re leaving under. They should also maintain as much confidentiality as possible, especially if the reason the former employee is leaving is sensitive. (MP clients can ask their HR provider for help deciding what to share with staff left behind.) Employers should quickly share the news with everyone simultaneously and in a way that they will be likely to see it. (For example, if the company intranet isn’t used much, it’s not the right avenue for news like this.) In their messaging, employers should consider welcoming any comments, questions, and concerns. It will also be helpful to meet with any team members privately who may be affected by this offboarding. The goal should be to make sure they feel valued and to assuage any anxieties they may have.
These efforts will go a long way in creating a strong company culture where staff feel secure in their jobs, trusting in management, and motivated to perform for the company. A strong leader can turn an offboarding into an opportunity to build trust and a stronger connection with the team that stays. If it’s handled poorly, this kind of situation can breed resentment and damage the company’s reputation as an employer. When the team works remotely, the connection employers build with them is tenuous enough, so taking extra care to nurture it in difficult moments is important.
- Getting property back: Companies with remote workers may have given them laptops, phones, headsets, or other equipment. To get equipment back, MP’s HR compliance experts recommend setting up everything for the employee. This can be accomplished by calling ahead at the local FedEx office to set up a shipment or emailing a shipping label to the worker. The employer should pay for the costs to send the equipment back to the headquarters and to simplify the process as much as possible for the worker. When they are being offboarded, employers should plan to have a clear conversation about when the former worker will send equipment back, as well as how.
- Research to stay in HR Compliance: Before an organization offboards anybody, employers need to be aware of all local and industry regulations that might be applicable. Many states have special laws surrounding the last paycheck. COBRA notices need to be shared and signed. It’s also helpful to reduce legal risk if a witness is invited to the meeting in which an employer lays off or terminates an employee. This witness should be an HR professional, the former staff member’s manager, or it could be an MP HR consulting expert. An HR provider like MP can also help employers figure out what they’ll need to do to be in compliance depending on the location the employee is offboarded from.
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