Best Practices for Documenting Employee Terminations

When it comes to documentation in an HR file, recording information around terminations can be critical in preventing law suits or fighting unemployment claims. Below are some best practices that may just help to save your company some money or legal headaches down the road.


  • Dates: Be sure to record the last day the employee actually worked and the effective date of termination. Sometimes this can be different IF the employee was on leave or didn’t show to work and quit or was terminated later. Some HR systems can capture both of theses dates so leverage your HRIS to your advantage.
  • Company Policy: When an employee is terminated for violation of company policy it is very important to memorialize a copy of the policy violated in their HR file as it existed at the time of violation. Legal suits can arise many years beyond termination and taking this simple step will save you time in the event you find your company in this situation.
  • Failure to return from leave: When an employee doesn’t return from leave be sure to capture and document any attempts to reach out to the employee and find out why they did not return. Attach any written statements that the employee signed stating the anticipated beginning and ending dates of their leave.
  • Evaluations or Disciplinary Actions: Any ongoing feedback should always be memorialized – whether it be good or bad. Document the date/time of the meeting, overview of discussion and in particular make sure any disciplinary action is written and acknowledged by the employee for the file. This might include warnings, on the job training provided, acknowledgements of company policies or copies of the job description.
  • Voluntary Resignation: Always request a written notice for voluntary resignations that capture the reason and length of notice and perform an exit interview whenever possible. Record any efforts taken to retain the employee and document any reasons why the employee declined. Exit interviews can be short in nature but gain you enough information to learn what might be causing good people to resign and reduce unwanted turnover.

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