Terminating an associate is never easy, nor is it something to consider lightly. If you're thinking about terminating an associate at your dental practice, not only do you want to be sure that you protect yourself and your practice, but that you take the right steps to remain a reasonable employer. Make sure you keep these key things in mind.
Before you call a meeting, sit down and read through the employment agreement. Make sure you aren't missing any key details of that agreement including details that could cause you to rethink your plans for termination.
Leading up to a termination meeting, make sure you document everything: any issues that have arisen, discussions with the associate about those problems, and any plans you've put in place to help implement improvements on both sides. Don't cease documentation just because you're ready to move forward with termination. You should consider including:
Never terminate an associate when angry, no matter the violation. You should avoid interacting angrily with the associate during your termination meeting or discussions, even if the associate gets angry with you or attempts to make things difficult. Make logical, practical decisions in the best interests of your practice and conduct practical interactions after you've had time to think them through. Consider:
When approaching the associate during a termination meeting, don't drag the meeting out unnecessarily. Instead, be as concise as possible. If terminating without cause, don't feel as though you must provide a reason for termination. If terminating with cause, keep the explanation clear and simple. You need not prolong the discussion with apologies or unnecessary details, instead, try to keep it as short and simple as possible. Give the associate room to process without dragging out the meeting. Keep in mind that the associate may have a very emotional reaction. You can allow the associate to collect him or herself without needing to stay in the room.
Terminating an associate isn't as simple as having them come into the office for a meeting, then leave, no longer employed by your practice. Think through the logistics before the termination meeting, including:
If you're concerned about any step in the termination process, seek legal counsel. Don't hesitate to contact an attorney early in the process, especially if you're concerned that problems may arise. Remember, it's better to consult an attorney before you need one than after you do something you can't take back. Ask any questions you might have about the process, including your ability to enforce any terms of your contracts.
Are you planning to terminate an associate of your practice? Contact us today to learn more about your legal obligations and how we can help you navigate that process.
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