When to Terminate a Remote Worker

by Greg DePersio

2 min read

Hiring remote workers can be a strategic move for your small business. By expanding your employee search beyond your local area, you open your business to a talent pool without geographic bounds. If you seek an employee with a specific skill set, such a person may be difficult to find close by. Remote workers also demand less overhead, since many have their own office equipment, phone, and internet connection. Unfortunately, not all relationships with remote workers turn out to be fruitful. Learn how to determine when it’s time to fire a remote worker, and understand the potential costs involved and how to break the news.

How to Know When It is Time

If you are considering terminating a remote worker, chances are it is for one of two reasons: performance reasons or security reasons. Either the worker is not performing the job up to standard, or you feel he or she presents a security threat to your business. A good litmus test for performance-related firings is asking yourself if the employee costs your company more than he or she makes it. For some employees, such as salespeople, this is easy to measure. For others, such as remote accounting staff, quantifying what they’re worth is more difficult. However, if as the business owner you feel you could terminate a remote employee and take over the duties, and that your business would run smoother as a result, it is probably time for that worker to go. If you feel a remote employee presents a legitimate security threat to your business, maybe you uncovered a criminal conviction he or she didn’t disclose, or committed malfeasance of some kind, the time to terminate the employee is the minute you discover the information. No worker, no matter how talented, is worth creating an unsafe environment for your business and your other employees.

What It Might Cost Your Business

Canada has very strict laws governing the protocol for firing workers. Those being terminated due to gross misconduct or harassment receive little protection, but those otherwise in good standing with the company are entitled to a few things along with their pink slip. First, you must provide written notice of the termination in advance. How far in advance depends on the employee’s tenure; someone employed less than one year is entitled to one week’s notice, while someone employed eight years or more is required to be given eight weeks’ notice. If you fail to provide this notice, you must pay the employee for the number of work weeks that correspond with the notice that should have been received.

How to Break the News

The proliferation of remote workers has thrown a monkey wrench into longstanding etiquette procedures for firing employees. It is generally accepted that workers should be fired in person by a representative from HR. For certain remote employees, such as those living hundreds of miles from your business’ physical location, this might not be feasible. At the very least, though, employees being terminated for performance reasons and not because of gross misconduct or malfeasance should hear the news via teleconference, and not from an email or text message. Recognizing when it is time to let a remote worker go, being prepared with the proper written notice or severance pay, and breaking the news in a professional and classy manner allow your business to make difficult personnel moves without courting legal trouble or burning bridges.

References & Resources

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