Firing Employees

Breakthrough in getting your business working again

Tips for Firing Employees and Employer Conduct

The art of firing employees...

As a Human Resources manager or small business owner, you will eventually have to terminate an employee. No matter how carefully you screen new hires or how efficiently you run the business, you will fire someone at one time or another. And it is always best to go into these situations prepared.

When firing employees, employer conduct during the termination period becomes especially important. First it is helpful not to burn bridges with previous employees. Second, professional conduct reduces the possibility of legal ramifications that may come out of firing employees. This is why discussing firing employees and employer conduct go together.

Disciplinary Action

As an employer, before beginning the termination process, it is essential to give employees the opportunity to redeem themselves on-the-job. There is always the possibility the employee does not know that their skills are lacking. If the disciplinary action is something as simple as consistent tardiness, there may be a reason. Possibly, their arrival time is interfering with dropping their children off at the baby-sitter or with a spouse coming home from work to take the kids. If this is the case, they may simply be too afraid to speak up. This is, if course, a situation that you and the employee can work out through counseling and maybe even a small schedule change.

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Despite the size of the disciplinary problem, you must document any discussions and warnings for an employee's behavior. This way you have a good idea of how often a problem occurs. As well, if the employee's conduct goes against all company policies, you may decide to table the discussions of firing employees and employer conduct. The answer is simply to fire the employee.

Firing Employees and Employer Conduct for Sick or Injured Employees

Another good rule of conduct for HR managers or small business owners to keep in mind is that it usually is not a good idea to terminate employees while they are off work sick or injured. This has legal ramifications, whether the employee is away because of a childbirth, a back injury or a simple cold. Of course depending on the circumstances, you may eventually have to terminate the employee if their illness becomes a permanent condition that will not allow them to return to work.

Before you have had a chance to sit down and discuss a sick employee’s situation, you should not just replace their position with another employee. Remember you always have the option of hiring a temporary worker or using an employee from another division to fill in temporarily. If however a sick employee returns from medical leave to find their job permanently filed, you will have a messy legal nightmare on your hands. It is best to use temporary help until it is possible to speak with the employee about their future with the company. As far as firing employees and employer conduct goes, this is the safest bet to ensure that both parties will end up happy with the result of a sick or injured employee.

Of course, if the employee has been sent home because of an illness or injury and has not responded to numerous phone calls, e-mails, and written letters about returning to work, this is a different case. You should carefully document all attempts to contact the employee along the way. If it all fails, you may have to write a termination letter and file the employee’s position. And it's worth repeating here . . . just make sure you carefully record and copy all attempts at communication with the sick or injured employee.

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Employment Termination Missteps and Obstacles

Before bringing in the employee to your office, jot down a few notes to think about why you should terminate the employee. By answering a few questions, you can develop a decisive, short speech to give the employee, which will help relieve any turmoil afterwards and give insight into why you are terminating them.

* What problems has the employee caused?
* Are there specific policies the employee has broken?
* Have you warned the employee?
* Have you taken other measures to bring back the employee within good standing?
* Are there legal considerations to keep in mind?

This last question brings to mind why it is crucial to have certain actions thought out before bringing in the employee. Employers do not want to leave any doubt about why they are firing an employee. Do not let the imagination of the terminated employee run wild with discrimination lawsuit ideas. Be concise and direct about the missteps of the employee and the employment termination proceedings will be over within moments. Most terminations do not end in long-drawn-out conversations, but guarded goodbyes, but be prepared for pleas and some shameful comments.

Many different companies handle employment termination in various ways, even by emails and text messages recently. We recommend face-to-face encounters, where the employee can leave with the respect of the company for having the nerve to tell him or her in person. If nothing else, it will keep your company out of the headlines and where it should be headed, towards success.

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