If you are reading this you might be about to start a disciplinary-termination procedure. No-one enjoys this process, but it is vital that it is done sensitively and legally.

Senior executives list this as one of their top three most anxious situations according to the Wall Street Journal so it is not only the employee who suffers. This feedback from our clients led to us writing a manual, Effective and Risk-Free Disciplinaries 2020, to help reduce their stress, ensure processes are ethical and, more importantly, reduce their legal risk. Download it here.

Probationary Periods As Part Of The Process

Above all else, it is vital that any existing company rules are clear and logical rules. Next, there must be an atmosphere of trust between management and employees.

Employees should be consulted on new rules prior to the adoption of them. The consequences of non-compliance must be well-understood by everyone.

If non-compliance occurs, you should have an employee warning system already established which you can then activate.

The first time a warning is needed perhaps it would be more productive to have a gentle reminder as step one followed by a written reprimand for a 2nd transgression which refers to past performance and warnings. For a 3rd transgression, a final warning can be issued which accompanies a probationary period with a set period of time and measurable outcomes for that period of time. This must include a detailed account of the employee’s transgressing performance. It must also be crystal clear to that employee that violating the probation will mean dismissal for them.

All the above-mentioned steps must be executed in a private consultation with the employee as a public debacle could be construed as constructive dismissal. In addition, they must be offered counseling to improve their performance. The warnings must be added to their personnel file.

Myth Buster: There is no longer a requirement of 3 strikes, and you are out. The ‘three warnings‘ rule is one of the most common misconceptions in employment law. It simply does not exist. The reality is there is no general rule that employers must issue three warning before an employee can be dismissed. The level of response needs to be proportionate to the matter at hand.

Less Haste, More Fairness

Evidence of transgressions that has blurred lines can be damaging. In all instances, it is always better, and more ethical, to try to assist or rehabilitate the employee rather than dismiss unless it is impropriety, gross incompetence or theft.

Lack of appropriate support and lack of fair communication are the top reasons behind poor results from an employee.

Performance reviews allow a fair chance to change. Remind the employee of what is expected of them.

Documenting Information

Goals and deadlines must be confirmed in writing, must be signed off, and must be filed in their personnel file.

It is also helpful for you and your team of 2 or 20 to have reviews or efficiency reports every 6 months and definitely after an initial probationary period.

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Next Steps

In the instance that your efforts to turn the employee’s performance around does not bear fruit, and you have come to the end of the probation warning period, it is time to make a replacement.

This step is best done quickly. Stick to facts. The employee’s manager and the HR manager, or alternative witness if you do not have an HR manager, should be present for better legal protection. Written evidence is the only material acceptable to labor boards and labor courts.

Other Issues to Consider Before Firing

Union employees will have collective bargaining agreements that must also be considered.

If the employee is an officer or director of the corporation, firing that employee does not terminate his or her appointment as an officer or director. Get a resignation or vote recording any such actions in resolutions as required by the corporation commission(s).

Be careful about benefit plans and be aware of their terms in the event of termination. There are penalties for failure to pay vested interest in profit-sharing plans, for example.

Do not allow a dismissed employee to train his replacement. Train the replacement yourself. Inconvenient in the short time, highly beneficial in the long term.

Pay out all funds due to them quickly. Avoid any risk of a messy closure.

After The Dismissal

A dismissed manager can form his own company and attract your major clients and key personnel if they feel the dismissal was unfair.

A poorly handled dismissal, witting or unwitting, can be a disaster for staff morale, PR and legal costs.

It will put you in very good light with the rest of your employees if you let the exiting employee use an office and secretarial or professional help for free to seek other employment.

There is no perfect way to handle it but there are better ways. Our Effective and Risk-Free Disciplinaries 2020 manual [insert hyperlink to product specific page] will give you very valuable guidance on how to handle this stressful and complicated process for a very fair price of $97.00.

Alternatively contact us for our hands-on involvement in setting up the processes for you, to execute a dismal process or to assist an exiting employee find other employment.

[References]: www.entrepreneur.com

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