Can You Fire Someone Over The Phone – Is It Illegal Or Rude?

When it comes to termination, it isn’t easy for anyone, whether you’re an employee or an employer.

Is there a right way to fire someone and how to do that? Can you fire someone over the phone? Is it okay to do that?

It can be tricky to deliver the news, so read our article and with the following tips the termination process will be a relatively quick, less painful, but respectful experience.

Can You Terminate Someone Over The Phone?

First, let’s solve this illegal-legal mystery.

No, it isn’t illegal to fire someone over the phone. So the answer to this question is yes, you can fire your employee over the phone. There are no law consequences that you will face because of phone termination.

old phone

Mostly, employers aren’t restricted in the manner in which they should terminate the employees. Unless there is a part in the contract that outlines how the employee can be fired.

The employer can fire its employee by email, over the phone, by text message, by letter, in person, etc.

Also, employees who work at at-will employment (the most common contract type in the USA) can be fired at any time, for or without any reason. It goes another way around, at-will employees can quit their job whenever they want it. But it’s important to note it’s always considered more professional to fire an employee face to face.

Why It Isn’t Recommended?

There are many reasons why you should tell your employee bad news face to face.

Your employees are human beings and deserve respect. Try to place yourself in the employee’s shoes and ask yourself, would you like to be terminated over the phone or other impersonal method? Probably not.

Be courageous enough to tell them they are fired in front of them.

office communication

Furthermore, it’s bad for morale – words will get around that you can’t even set the meeting and tell your employee about termination in the face. That could have an impact on productivity, retaining employees and future employment.

Also, that shows you actually don’t care about your employees. That can make a certain reputation about your company.

When Is It OK To Fire Someone Over The Phone?

However, there are some instances where it’s perfectly fine to fire someone over the phone call.

This way of termination is okay if the employee works remotely and he/she is several hours away. Still, consider having a video call.

Also, if the employee hasn’t been showing up for work repeatedly you can call and deliver the news.

How Do You Fire Someone Over The Phone?

It isn’t the best way, but sometimes it is justified. When it comes to this situation, there is a way to handle the termination over the phone.

  • Set up a phone meeting with the employee just as you would if that was a face-to-face meeting. Consider the call via video chat, it is more professional.
  • Have an HR team member present – Make sure a human resource member is present during the call and introduce them.
  • Start with bad news – Always start with the fact that the employee will be terminated.
  • Keep your explanation short but specific – You don’t want to go into a long discussion and don’t give a long list of reasons. Keep your reason clear and brief.
  • person making a phone call

  • Reference performance goals and give the employee time to respond – Allude to the employee’s past performances and notice that goals aren’t reached. Then give them an invitation to respond to this news.
  • Provide related documentation – Define the next steps with the employee – date of termination, communicate your severance policy and other related paperwork.
  • Inform them about follow-up email – To minimalize resistance and long discussion, keep the call moving in the right direction and inform the employee that HR or you will be sending an email with all necessary paperwork.
  • Listen to the employee and repeat your decision – Let the employee offer their point of view, it is valuable. Unless there is some new evidence that can change your decision, repeat that their employment is no longer needed.
  • sending email

  • Thank the employee – Finish the phone call with that, thank them politely for their service during employment and wish them all the best in the future.

Remember, when thinking about how to terminate your employee, whether in a meeting or via email or phone call, keep the information objective and your tone human.

What To Do After Being Fired?

The employer must give its employee the benefits that are listed in its employment contract.

This may include unused sick pay, unused vacation pay and severance pay.

Final Verdict

There are many reasons why firing your employee over the phone isn’t a good policy. Anyway, there is no legal prohibition against that kind of termination. Before your final decision, think about all advantages and disadvantages of this phone termination procedure.

Melissa is a freelance writer with a Bachelor of Economy. She became one of the OfficeNeedle team members in 2020. Her expertise in business management lies in 6-year experience working in 3 companies which allowed her to improve her business skills. The knowledge she has received through her work, she presents in the educational articles helping many people who start or run a business. Her secret love is design so she writes also about office furniture and equipment.