Have you ever hired the “perfect” employee only to discover that your perfect hire was a perfect disaster?
Are you faced with an employee who continues to make mistakes even after repeated training, or, with an employee who is rude to customers? Maybe you have experienced an employee who is consistently late for work despite your repeated warnings. Do you have the right to fire the employee outright?
In many states, workers are considered “Employees at Will” which technically means that you can terminate employment at any time, (or the employee can decide to resign or “quit” without giving you any notice. Check with the Department of Labor for your region to determine whether your business is in an “Employment at Will” state.
Regardless of whether your business is in an “Employment at Will” state, there are basic guidelines that you can follow when faced with the difficult charge of firing an employee:
- Make your employee aware that you have concerns about their work or their behavior and why. Be specific about how their behavior or work performance affects the business, or their co-workers if applicable. Some red flags to look for: decreased productivity, consistent customer complaints, or not meeting deadlines. It’s also appropriate to let the employee know at this stage that the next complaint, or performance problem could result in their being fired from their job.
- Document every conversation that you have with the employee about the concern(s). Include a summary of your employees’ explanation if any, what recommendations or next steps where discussed, and the date(s) of the conversation. Place your notes in a confidential file for further reference if necessary.
- Write a brief summary of each conversation that you have with your worker in memo form and give it to the employee for their records. Keep a copy in an employee file.
- If your employee continues to create problems in the workplace, meet with the employee and highlight that despite previous discussions, concerns, or warnings, there are still ongoing issues and that your only recourse at this stage is to end their employment.
- Have your employee’s paycheck ready at the time that they are being notified that their employment has ended. Give the employee an opportunity to get their personal belongings. Retrieve any business property such as keys/access cards, or photo ID. Be prepared to change the access code or locks on the day of termination if necessary.
Establishing basic guidelines for what constitutes a terminable offense, is a best management practice that will help you to avoid any confusion or uncertainty with how to handle the process of firing an employee should you be faced with the difficult task.
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