Now that many employees telework at least some of the time, terminations have gotten more complicated. Do you wait to deliver the bad news when employees come into work? Do you order all affected employees into the office for a mass firing?

McDonald’s, which has about 45,000 corporate employees working office jobs and at restaurants not owned by franchisees, recently took a different approach. When it cut jobs in the first week of April, it closed corporate facilities from Monday through Wednesday. Employees who would have worked at a McDonald’s office or company-owned restaurant were instructed to telework those days instead. Then the company delivered the bad news from a distance.

If you’re considering remote terminations for employees who sometimes work onsite, here are some factors you should consider:

Severance documents. In advance of your layoff notification, work out the logistics of document delivery. Some states require you to deliver a final paycheck on the day of termination. If you’re tendering severance agreements that offer a payment in exchange for a lawsuit waiver, remember that the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act grants workers age 40 and older up to 21 days to review the terms of the offer.

Timing. If you have remote workers in several time zones, when will you notify those affected? It’s probably best to send the news at the same time, accounting for time zones. Doing rolling terminations based on location might be perceived as unnecessarily cruel; those who don’t receive a layoff notice when they log on for the day may think their jobs are safe, only to get the axe later.

Workers on leave. If your layoff list includes workers out on leave, how will you notify them? When Google began laying off 12,000 employees in January, some reportedly got the news while they were in the hospital receiving medical treatment.

Advice.  Ask your attorney for help in navigating remote layoffs. The ill will generated by botched terminations could trigger a wave of litigation.

Source: HR Specialist Employment Law | May 2023