October 24, 2023

Scary HR Mistakes Part 2: Skipping Steps When Firing An Employee

Welcome to Part 2 of Our Scary HR Mistakes: Skipping Steps When Firing An Employee

This week we explore the creepy conundrums companies come upon in failing to take certain steps when firing an employee, particularly in not documenting the process.

Terminating an employee is probably one of the scariest things a company can do. Just like ending any relationship, it can get emotional, with the person getting dumped becoming sad, or angry. But even scarier, ending an employee relationship has legal implications, meaning lawyers might have to get involved. The following are some grave errors companies make when they have to let someone go:

Not Writing It Down

When you eventually have to discipline someone, it is smart to make a record that reflects that you are following these procedures. Include dates, times, what is happening, who was involved, and any consequences initiated. Most courts will allow business records to come into evidence. If you keep accurate records at the time the incident is occurring, it will be a very useful tool to defend your side of the story if any dispute goes to court.

Not Looking at the Handbook

Yes – the handbook is back. Last week we talked about why they are so important, and this week, you get to see why. If you are taking disciplinary action against your employee, check the handbook to ensure any policies and procedures are followed to a ‘tee.’ This is the first thing any lawyer or judge looks at if there is legal trouble – and it should be the first thing you look at, too.

Failing to Communicate your Expectations

A good company will create a job description that will lay out an understanding of the core functions and duties of each person’s role in the company. Attach a version of the job description on the initial job advertisement, discuss in the interview, present during onboarding, and include in the employee’s welcome packet. It should be referred to at performance evaluations. Basically, this should be the skeleton of what you expect from your employee and encourage them to refer to it so that all parties know what the modus operandi is.

Initiate a Plan to Improve

Say you have told your employee that they aren’t meeting expectations, they have been disciplined, and you did it properly in accordance with the handbook and your records reflect it. Firing an employee is expensive, and you want to make sure you’ve given them every chance to correct their behavior.

Here’s A Quick Guide

If you can show that you are doing everything in your power to give this employee a chance, if they are disgruntled and making your life difficult, you have evidence to show just how reasonable you are being.

So, What Does All Of This Mean?

Essentially, a performance-based termination should never come as a shock to your employees. By maintaining a record, communicating clear expectations, and giving them a reasonable chance to correct their behavior, your company will be setting itself up for success in the event it becomes contentious. Optimum HR can help create job descriptions, a system to maintain disciplinary records, and even offer advice on appropriate plans for improvement to all members of your team.

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