How to Fire an Employee Remotely

Almost every business has had to fire an employee at some point. Whether it's because of a performance issue, behavior issues, or interpersonal conflict within the company, there always comes a time when you need to let someone go. It can be a tough decision as you will have to make sure that your actions are legally justified and that you are ethically right to do what needs to be done. When it comes to firing an employee remotely, some different considerations and procedures need to be followed, such as the employment laws of your country and state, safety issues, and health insurance coverage. In this article, I will show you how to fire an employee remotely, even in another country, another continent, or another time zone.

Why Do You Need to Fire an Employee

1. Poor performance.

If an employee is not performing at a level that meets expectations, it is reasonable to terminate them. This also applies to employees who are not meeting performance, efficiency, and productivity expectations.

2. Lack of respect for authority.

You can fire an employee if they do not show proper respect toward those in authority over them. This includes the employer as well as other supervisors within the company. An example would be an employee who refuses to follow instructions from his supervisor or manager even though they have been given clear instructions on how they should be carried out.

3. Inability to perform job duties.

Another reason fire an employee may be when they cannot perform their job duties because of a lack of training or experience in handling specific tasks required for the position they hold within the company.

4. Inappropriate behavior towards others during work hours.

Employees may be terminated if they misbehave during work hours, such as using profanity or racist comments about others. It might also include lying, stealing, or abusing drugs or alcohol on the job site or during company events. Any other action that could damage the reputation of a company is a good reason for a company to fire an employee. In these situations, it's essential to act quickly and decisively.

5. Incompetence

This is another common reason for termination. If your employee isn't getting the job done and cannot improve their performance over time, they should be let go so that you can get back on track with your business goals. Otherwise, your business could suffer from poor performance and low productivity levels due to their poor work ethic or lack of skillset needed for their position.

6. Layoff

Layoffs are sometimes used to fire an employee without providing any notice period required under law or regulation. Employers can also use a layoff as a strategy to reduce costs and maintain profitability by reducing payroll expenses and staffing levels.

What You Need to Do Before You Fire an Employee Remotely

1. Gather all records and documentation

The first step to take before you fire an employee remotely is to make sure you gather all records and documentation about the employee. They can include

  • Employment contract.
  • Hire/fire forms.
  • The employee performance plan
  • Documents stating the reason for termination
  • Disciplinary action notes
  • Reports of any re-trainings or meetings to help the employee
  • Work performance reviews.
  • Performance evaluations for managers.
  • Timesheets for people who work remotely, including those who are paid by the project or task or by the hour.
  • Copies of all emails sent between employee and employer, including any messages that indicate poor performance or inappropriate behavior.

In addition, gather all the employee's work history, including their previous job references, pay stubs, and anything related to them working for your company. This will help you determine if there are other reasons why they should not be allowed to continue working for you. It's also a good idea to take photos of any documents relevant to the firing process.

2. Check state and local laws to ensure compliance

Before you can fire an employee who is not present physically, you must first determine if it's legal. Laws vary by state, so it's essential to check the local, state and federal laws to ensure compliance with requirements specific to your company. For example, your company may have specific rules about how often you can fire an employee or what kind of notice you must provide the employee before you can fire him or her. If your company has a termination policy, ensure that it is followed at all times.

3. Calculate over dues owed 

Another thing to take note of before you fire an employee remotely is to calculate the dues you owe that employee. Depending on the employee contract and time of the month, calculate all that you owe the employee, including all the bonuses, benefits, and allowances. This ensures that the employee gets all they were promised or worked for. So that the employee doesn't take legal action against the company.

4. Create an official termination letter

Draft and review an official termination letter for the employee. The letter can include the following:

  • A statement stating the termination of the contract between the employee and the company
  • Any compensation or benefits the employee will receive
  • Wording that states that the termination is irreversible 
  • date of termination

5. Determine who will be present for the meeting

The next is to determine who will be present for the meeting. Choose a spokesman for the meeting. It can be the direct supervisor of the employee or team leader. You might also want to contact the HR department to send a representative and contact your Lawyer to attend the meeting.

How to Fire An Employee Remotely

1. Schedule a Meeting

Since you are firing an employee remotely, it's best to use various conferencing apps like Zoom, Google Meet and Skype, most of which are free to use to communicate with the employee being fired. Just ensure you have the right number of people in the room and it's clear who is talking rather than having someone mumble. It might be tempting to conduct the termination using telephones, but it's not a good idea. Being on video allows the reading and understanding of the participant’s body language and facial expressions. Here are some other communication and project management tools you might like

2. Be compassionate

When firing an employee remotely, be compassionate and understanding about the whole process. This cannot be easy, and the best way to do it is to imagine you're talking to a friend. Be friendly and empathetic. If you can't be compassionate, at least don't make it sound like you're being anything but kind and understanding. They may not have done anything wrong, but losing a job is still hard because they are losing their livelihood.

3. Be as direct as possible.

The best way to handle this is by being clear about the reasons for firing and being honest about how you feel about the situation. If there are extenuating circumstances, let them know so they can seek help elsewhere.

4. Leave the door open for future work with them.

If you've been working with an employee for a long time, it's probably a good idea to keep them on the team if possible. it's probably worth keeping them on your team if possible. These employees might have been fired because of age, illness, and other circumstances. Tell them about what went wrong and how you can help them in the future and don't forget to apologize for any offense caused by their termination. The last thing you want is for your employees to feel like they were fired because of something they did wrong

5. Make it Brief

You don't have to get into lengthy discussions or negotiations. Your role in the termination meeting isn’t to renegotiate. The decision you make should be final immediately after the meeting starts. There is no need to negotiate and get drawn into a lengthy discussion. You can say something like, “I’m sorry you feel that way, but our decision is final.”

Things to Do After Firing an Employee Remotely

1. Contact the IT department

If you need to fire an employee, it's best to involve the IT team. The IT team will be able to log into the employee's computer remotely and clear out sensitive data, such as passwords and emails. If the employee has company tools, including phones, laptops, badges, etc., request they return them at the meeting, but make sure the staff member has the ability to do so.

You can send them a prepaid package label or boxes if the equipment is very large immediately after the meeting to ensure they can get the equipment back to you. You might have to pay for the logistics and shipping of the materials. The faster you can get them the mailing information, the faster they can return the materials.

Furthermore, they will have to disable all online access, including email addresses, social media accounts, and other links that tie to the company or business will need to be disabled. These should be closed out immediately.

2. Notify other staff

The decision to fire someone might affect others, including co-workers with whom they have had relationships. Delivering the news of the termination promptly without compromising the employee’s privacy or dignity is essential. Handle any of the team’s uneasiness and let them know your measures to ensure a smooth change. 

3. Send written documentation

After the meeting, send the terminated employee a written letter stating the reason for termination and the date it takes effect.

4. Update the job description.

Review and update, as necessary, the terminated employee’s job description to ensure it is up-to-date and correct. 

Job posting. Work with the terminated employee’s supervisor to draft and post a job posting if the position is to be filled. 

Example of what you should say when firing an employee remotely

I appreciate you taking the time to participate in this call, Sam. I’ve asked Bonnie from HR to join our call. Also joining us is our company Lawyer, Mr Bateman.  

As you know, we’ve had a considerable amount of talks over the past few months about your failure to meet performance expectations. 

The last time we had a call, I gave some obligatory steps you had to take to meet performance expectations. I gave you a deadline of 3 months to improve your performance. 

Despite the time and opportunity to meet performance expectations that were given to you, you still failed to meet up the company's expectation. Therefore, we have to let you go.

Bonnie from HR will reach out in the next few days to schedule a follow-up call to review the termination paperwork and answer any questions you may have. 

Thank you for your service, and we wish you the best in your future endeavours.


While firing remotely is a necessary part of business or company, it's uncomfortable. No one wants to fire someone over email, especially if they are a longtime employee who isn't doing a bad job by any standard. To help you through the process, we've broken down the basics of firing an employee remotely, keeping in mind that this isn't a decision to be taken lightly but isn't entirely uncharted territory. You can also read our article on 10 Best Practices To Manage Remote Teams to manage your employees remotely.

Opeyemi Olagoke
Opeyemi Olagoke
Olagoke Opeyemi Dare is a writer, digital marketer, and researcher with over 2 years of experience as a researcher. He is currently an intern at Spark Connect where he focuses on the fundamentals of digital marketing, social media marketing, and copywriting. He has written different articles and papers for various blogs and academic research projects respectively.

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