Sometimes an employee may not be a good fit for your company and you may need to let them go. Also you may have employees that decide to leave your company to seek other opportunities. In either case there are regulatory requirements involved in terminating employees and practical steps you want to take to learn from the situation and make sure all you assets and information are properly protected.
There are many risks related to terminating employees and many laws related to the fair treatment of terminated employees. The rights an employer has in terminating employees will depend on the specific situation at hand. Employers who classify their employees as at-will have more rights than employers who have employees working under union contracts. Despite the risks, for most employers the demands of running a business require an ability to dispense with services of workers in certain circumstances.
Reasons for terminating an employee’s employment may include the employee being:
Misconduct or illegal activity or breach of confidentiality
Over qualification for the position
Incompatible with the culture or other personnel in the company
There are a number of issues to overcome when terminating an employee’s employment. When terminating an employee, employers are required to demonstrate both substantive fairness and procedural fairness. Substantive fairness basically means that the employer is required to have a legitimate reason to dismiss the employee and procedural fairness is related to the manner in which the termination is completed. Employers who fail to apply both substantive and procedural fairness in terminating an employee’s employment run the risk of a claim for unfair dismissal, breach of contract or award, or other offences under various regulatory requirements. Often procedural fairness requires the employee be given notification, an opportunity to respond; and warning(s) of potential termination of employment. Procedural fairness requires that the disciplinary procedure be applied fairly and consistently to all employees.
When an employee’s performance does not meet a satisfactory standard, the first step taken should be informal counselling. The employer should provide the employee with details of the performance issues and give the employee an opportunity to improve within a specified period. When informal counselling does not produce the required outcome, a more formal disciplinary process should be commenced. This may involve a performance management plan that documents the issues, actions to be taken, and the timeframe for improvement and further review.
When an employer terminates an employee, it should also consider the security risks involved and take the appropriate measures to minimize potential vulnerabilities. Employees often have access to important company resources. This access can come in the form of having company keys, knowing important passwords, working with top-secret information, being in possession of company property and other things of this nature. Businesses should have procedures in place to retrieve their property, change locks and alter passwords. They should also have all employees who work with top-secret or confidential information sign nondisclosure and confidentiality agreements to discourage the employee from using that information against them.
Recently terminated employees are often hurt and angry over losing their job. As a result, there is an increased risk of retaliation on their part. Retaliation can come in the form of sabotage, back-stabbing, speaking negatively about the company, and in extreme cases, can even involve injury to the fired employee or others. While businesses cannot eliminate the risk of retaliation, they can attempt to minimize it. Common approaches involve always terminating employees as civilly as possible, offering severance packages when the employee is entitled, refraining from unjustly fighting unemployment claims and paying the employee their earned vacation time, personal days and other benefits.
BBS can handle all your employee management responsibilities including terminating employees. We make sure everything is handled in a professional manner and that all required documentation is completed and properly stored.