Do I have to notify employees in advance that they are going to be fired?
Generally, no; at least at the federal level there is no advance notification required before you terminate someone’s employment. There are, however, two notable exceptions.
First, you may be restricted by an employment agreement that you have entered into with the employee or bargaining agent for the employee. If that is the case such agreements routinely restrict your ability to fire an employee without advance notice, and/or may require that you can only fire the employee with “cause,” however that might be defined in the agreement. If such an agreement exists, you will want to adhere to its terms and follow them closely. Routinely employment agreements, particularly for executives, will contain advance notice provisions that allow the executive to correct the behavior that would otherwise give the company cause to terminate their employment.
Second, in the event of a mass layoff or plant closing by a covered employer, the federal WARN Act (Workers Adjustment & Retraining Notification Act) might require advance warning of at least sixty (60) days prior to their employment loss. Any termination offers risk to the company, but complying with all of the nuances and requirements that go into a mass layoff can be very difficult and legal counsel should always be sought.
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