Employees today are far more aware of their rights under the law. Before you fire someone, you need to make sure to do it in the right way or you may end up in court. Employers need to have well-documented causes before terminating anyone. Here are seven steps to follow.
- Give new hires an employee handbook
Employee handbooks should be given to new hires. This handbook should document your disciplinary policies and local law compliance. If an employee decides to file a lawsuit against you, he or she can’t claim lack of knowledge about what is expected.
You are required by labor law to display certain posters in prominent places in the workplace so employees are aware of their rights. Resourceful Compliance will supply you with all labor law posters you need and also help you to stay compliant with up-to-date information.
- Speak to the employee well in advance
Employees need to be aware when they are violating company policies. Don’t make any exceptions because you risk claims that you are treating some people unfairly. You need to speak to an employee and it’s best to frame this in terms of improving professional development and being committed to the company so it can’t be taken as a personal attack.
- Document performance issues
If the employee doesn’t listen, you will need to start documenting the performance issues. Put it in writing, get the employee to sign it and place in the personnel file. You need to make sure an employee fully understands any issues and is given an opportunity to improve.
- Carry out a proper investigation
You will need to gather all the evidence and preserve it to back up your claims. Documented exit interviews with supervisors and co-workers can be a part of your investigation as well as reviewing emails, computer files etc. You also need to know what laws have relevance to the person you’re considering terminating.
- Put the employee on notice
If you’re an all-will employer, you do not have to put an employee on notice. However, an employee who is already aware of any issues is less likely to file a claim. Warning an employee that there are issues that can help to avoid him or her thinking the firing has come out of nowhere.
- Fire an employee in a dignified way
If you put an employee on notice and there is still no improvement, it’s time to end the relationship in a professional and dignified way. When you fire an employee, it should happen in a private area. Having at least one witness is important but the firing should be done away from the other employees.
- Be clear and accurate
Preparing a script with bullet points before a meeting to fire an employee is a good idea to avoid any confusion. The employee needs to understand the reason for the termination. An employer’s credibility may come into question if an employee feels he or she is being misled about the reason for termination and a different reason comes out later.
- Communicate all legal requirements
Confirm all legal requirements in writing with employees you’ve fired, such as unemployment options, the last paycheck, transportability of insurance and COBRA benefits.
In most states, employees who are terminated are eligible for unemployment compensation, even if they’re fired for incompetence, and if you resist this, you are likely to face the cost of fighting a discrimination claim.
As an employer, having a severance policy that requires an employee to sign a release to receive payment is recommended. This release can dissuade an employee from filing a claim and severance cost is less than dealing with a lawsuit