How to Fire an Employee the RIght Way

An employee gets difficult when he or she either underperforms or makes serious errors and omissions or even refuses to follow the company boss’s orders. As an employer, you would probably give the employee a chance to rectify him/herself with counseling. But in case the employee remains as difficult as he had been, it is quite natural that you would be tempted to fire him/her and look for a welcome replacement. However, to fire a difficult employee is easier said than done. There are legal, emotional and productivity ramifications to be taken into account when you decide to fire one of your employees. You have to do this unpleasant job quite tactfully so that the effects of this termination on your establishment are minimal.

Every employer-employee relationship, in essence, means payment of a certain amount of money to the employee in exchange for a certain kind of job performed by the employee for the employer. If an employee is unable to carry out a job’s basic functions, he/she is no longer entitled to collect a salary, and the employer is free to look for a replacement who can do the job.

You can follow these procedures to avoid legal complications and a costly settlement if you decide to fire a difficult employee.

Failure to perform duty, negligence, lack of punctuality and excessive absences are excellent reasons for firing a difficult employee. Document the employee’s performance or lack of it according to the company protocol. If you fire the employee for poor performance, you should have on file all job evaluations, notices of deficiency, and a rough written transcript of what is said in the exit interview. Written documentation and a transcript of the exit interview are required if you fire someone for serious violations in conduct. If you have a severance policy, offer it to the employee if he/she qualifies.

Check carefully in your company manual, if any, to find if there is a minimum notice period before someone can be terminated. If you have a policy for handling difficult employees, follow it to avoid repercussions. If there is a grievance procedure or an internal appeals process, follow those termination processes. Also get in touch with your state employment commission to see whether your state law has limits on firing an employee.

Chances of lawsuits are less if you offer employees fired for poor job performance several months pay in exchange for a full release of all claims. Such a gesture makes the parting less bitter and the employee is less likely to file a wrongful termination suit against you. You can even offer to help him/her in finding a new job.

During the exit interview, you should begin by telling the employee that his/her services are no longer required by you and explain why this course of action has been taken. It should be made clear to the employee that this decision is final, and chances for reconciliation are non-existent. At this time, the written letter of termination should be handed over to the employee. It is also very important to write down what happened at the interview for future references.

Employers are mostly wary of laws that protect workers. They should rather keep in mind that job qualifications are still the key and protective legislation was never meant to shield incompetence.

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