A decision to separate an employee can raise legal issues if not done properly. However, your practice can take steps to greatly reduce risk and ensure a smooth termination process. Before terminating an employee, follow this checklist of best practices with required documents to ensure compliance with California law.
Best Practices for how to prepare for employment separation
Any employee separation should be done in a structured and professional manner with minimum disruption to the patients, staff and practice. Depending on what triggers an employee’s departure, separation can be an awkward situation for employers to navigate. Employers are encouraged to review this checklist to reduce risk and ensure a smooth process.
In California, the employment arrangement is considered “at-will,” which means that in the absence of a contract, both the employer and the employee are free to end the employment relationship at any time, with no penalty being assessed to either party. The practice retains the right to terminate an at-will employee for any lawful, nondiscriminatory reason with or without notice. However, employers must be careful that their decision to terminate at will does not violate, or appear to violate, state or federal law. The termination should also be consistent with employee policies, (including the Employee Handbook, if there is one) practices and any other implied or actual agreements.
Identify, and document the legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the termination:
Ultimately, in all cases, the employer must comply with specific final pay and notice requirements. The following are additional tips and best practices to consider when terminating an employee: