I cannot think of anyone that I know that loves to fire an employee but sometimes you just have to do it. The first thing that comes to mind is how to protect the business from a lawsuit. Even though most businesses are covered by at-will laws, which allow for firing of an employee for no reason. This language should be incorporated into your employment agreements, offering you another layer of protection. However this will not stop an employee from filing a lawsuit against you for wrongful termination. Even if the courts rule in your favor you are still left paying for the court and attorney fees.
Consider the following guidelines when hiring employees and while employees are working for your company.
- Consider a probationary period. It is difficult to determine an employee’s work style before they begin work so many companies institute a probationary period during which employees maybe fired. This is a great time to determine if the employee is meeting your expectations, fits the company culture and gets along with fellow employees.
- Bring in contractors or temp workers and try them out before you offer them employment. This is a great time to evaluate a potential employee to see if they fit your culture and if their work performance is up to your company’s standards.
- Document Everything. Often times employees will start showing signs of problems way before things get out of hand.
a. Document behaviors as they are observed.
b. Make note of dates and times and actions that are relevant to the employee’s actual dismissal
c. Issue written warnings and formal performance reviews that require the employee to sign and date
d. Educate yourself on the laws. The laws maybe different depending on the state that you are located in.
By instituting these steps into your human resource arsenal is going to make the process of firing your employee(s) less difficult. Though it is never easy to let an employee go keeping that same employee may harm your business or other employees. I knew of a small business that had an employee that was causing problems for his fellow co-workers. The small business kept the troubled employee on the books a lot longer than they should have and as a result had to let another employee go. You never know when you are going to hire a troubled employee. It is wise to pay attention and if in doubt end the relationship early. It does not matter even if this employee has been with you for years.
The small business owner may have been able to tell that there was trouble earlier had the co-workers brought the issue to the owner’s attention earlier. Listen to your employees and if in doubt investigate the situation yourself. It will save you grief later.
I hope you will take the steps in this article under consideration and incorporate them into your procedures. Though it is not easy to fire employees, by taking the steps necessary to protect yourself and your business you can save yourself a lot of hassle in the future.