Once the employer makes the decision to terminate the employment relationship with an employee, there is often (or should be) a discussion about when to have the meeting with employee to communicate the decision.  There are two primary schools of thought.  One thought is to communicate the decision at the end of the business day at the end of the workweek.  The rationale for communicating the decision at the end of the workweek is that it will have less of a disruption on the workforce by having an intervening weekend between the termination and the next time employees gather together for work.

Another school believes that the decision should be communicated to the employee at the beginning or middle of the workweek.  The thinking here is that the employee can use his or her time during the business week productively to file for unemployment benefits; begin looking for and applying for work;  contacting recruiters; and attempting to schedule interviews.  It may be in the employer’s interest to have the employee use the time productively looking for work rather than sitting around obsessing over the termination decision over a weekend when they cannot apply for benefits or make progress in obtaining another job and instead may spend the time searching the yellow pages or Internet for a lawyer.  

I believe that, with few exceptions, the termination decision should be communicated as soon after the decision is made as is possible regardless of the time of the week.  Once the employer has gathered all of the information it believes is necessary to make its informed decision to terminate, advising the employee as soon as possible reduces the likelihood that intervening acts occur that might give the employee grounds to challenge the decision.  For example, some employees who are under investigation for workplace misconduct may a charge of discrimination under the belief that the employee will not terminate the relationship shortly after the filing of a  "blocking" charge.  Similarly, employees that believe their job is on the line may have a suspicious workplace injury. 

As I said above, there are exceptions to any rule regarding when to communicate a termination decision.  Employers should avoid communicating termination decision on significant dates like birthdays, anniversaries or immediately before holidays.  A termination decision is difficult enough for the affected employee and if additional anguish can be avoided by waiting a day or two before communicating the decision, the employer should try and do so.

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