Terminating Household Employees Tips

Ideally, the dynamics between home employees, clients, and any other caregivers is amicable and beneficial to everyone involved. Unfortunately, there are situations where this is not the case.
Through the terminations for cause of two home health aides, we have learned what procedures are required by law, as well as steps to make the process as efficient and trouble-free as possible. 
Client Attitude  
Clients may be reluctant to fire employees, even when they don’t like them and/or are fully aware that the employee is taking advantage of them. The client may also resist termination because of a strong personal bond with the employee or excessive attachment due to loneliness or diminishing cognitive function.
  • If the client still has sufficient capacity, (s)he needs to agree to the termination. In one case, this took weeks of gentle coaxing by family, attorney, friends and us. Be prepared for a battle.
  • If the client no longer has the capacity to make decisions, the termination decision can be made by a family member or POA.
The Importance of Planning
An attorney once told us about an employee who was fired at the client’s home, threw herself on the floor, put a hammerlock around one leg of the family’s grand piano, and could only be removed by a team of police officers twelve hours later.
Because of the potential for further grief, our guiding principle is to make the termination as clean and clear-cut as possible with no opportunity for further contact between the client and employee.
The termination should be planned to achieve the following while conforming to state employment laws and regulations: 
  • Least opportunity for the client to reverse the termination and rehire the employee. 
  • Least opportunity for the employee to (i) seek re-employment, (ii) sue, or (iii) take advantage of the client in any way.
Based on our experience, here is a list (link to tipsheet) of the steps we have taken to ensure optimal results.
Legal Requirements: In New York State, employers are required to provide a written letter of termination within five days of the termination date. Be sure to research what laws apply in your state regarding termination. The termination letter can be signed and sent by either the employer or by the employer’s POA.
It is advisable to inform the employee in the termination letter of possible unemployment compensation for which they may qualify. The letter can also spell out the terms of any severance pay as well as requirements to qualify for such pay, including releasing the employer from all claims and damages and agreeing to abstain from attempts to contact or visit the employer. 

If you have any questions, please feel free to call us at Eddy & Schein in New York at 212-987-1427 or in Los Angeles at 626-395-7572. 

Rebecca Schein Gideon Y. Schein,
Rebecca R. Eddy
Gideon Y. Schein

Eddy & Schein
212. 987.1427


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