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How to Fire an Employee at Your Child Care Center

Julia Erman
April 14, 2021

I will never forget the first time I had to let an employee go, I remember it like it was yesterday. My whole neck started to turn red in hives and my heart raced for hours. This moment has never left me but it was a great learning experience for me as a leader.

If I learned one thing from my experience it’s that being the boss isn’t always fun and games. Sometimes you have to make hard decisions that will negatively affect others. This was by far my least favorite part of being a director. 

Whether you’ve been leading your center for a few months or a few decades there will come a time when you have to let someone go. It’s never a pleasant experience but it doesn’t have to be a nightmare. I believe that when you give new hires a chance by onboarding effectively and give them opportunity to grow, letting them go can actually be turned into a learning experience that has a positive impact down the road. 

Today I want to walk you through a few tips I have on how to fire an employee but before we begin it’s worth noting that you need to make sure any action you take is legal. For more information on the legality of terminating employment seek out the employment standards in your area, contact a lawyer, or call a free advice hotline


1. Keep Open Communication

Having open communication from the start with your employees is essential. Have each employee read through the handbook and sign a contract stating they have read and will follow the guidelines. By having clear communication up front you eliminate any confusion later on. 


2. Get a second opinion

When making a decision as big as firing someone don’t do it alone. Have someone you can review the facts with to help you navigate your decision. Sometimes we get too emotionally invested as leaders and you never want to make a judgment call on someone’s job based on emotion. Having a second set of eyes is always beneficial. 


3. Write up warning(s)

Very rarely is it ever acceptable to fire someone without any warning. There should be conversation(s) that occur about the issue(s) and a formal write-up done well before the decision is made to fire an employee. I suggest at least one verbal conversation and 2 write-ups before having any conversations around letting an employee go. Give opportunity for them to improve or leave on their own, then have a termination process in place and follow it consistently to avoid issues. 


4. Don’t do it alone

When it comes time to let an employee go, always give the news with someone you trust present. You never know what someone will do at such an emotional and difficult time. I have seen people act very irrationally after getting let go, so having a second set of eyes and ears is a must to prevent unnecessary escalation from either you or the employee. 


5. Immediately remove all access

When you let an employee go, immediately remove all access to their work email, the building, and any staff communication channels. You can never guess when a  staff member will become hostile and try to take you, your brand, or anyone else down with them. My advice is to have someone working on this while you are breaking the news to your employee. Obviously this depends on the circumstance and your relationship, but I would cut off all formal communication with clients and staff after they are let go. 


Final Notes

Letting an employee go is never fun for anyone. Avoid shock, anger, and unnecessary conflict by giving plenty of warning.  Before termination you should have giving verbal and written warning and developed a plan to improve areas where they are lacking with the understanding that if they don’t improve then they will be let go. If the firing comes as a shock you will not only lose the opportunity to improve your staff, but could be faced with an emotional outburst or even legal action.

Always keep communication with the employee clear and straightforward, focussing on the facts rather than on their person. Remember that the first priority should be employee growth and retention. That said, if a team member is not responding to your efforts, waiting will not help them, your team, or your center’s reputation. Take steps today to remove problematic employees and start building your childcare dream team!

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