Like recruiting, dismissing employees is a common practice for employers. You are bound to hire and fire talent as your business progresses. Firing an employee often occurs when the employee's activities no longer align with the company's policies or when you are obliged to downsize your staff due to economic constraints.
The concept of laying off an employee is not pleasant, but how you do it can make a lot of difference. Wrongly firing an employee could negatively affect your brand or put you in legal shambles. So to avoid any of that, this article will enlighten you on how to fire employees the right way. Let's get into it!
Reasons to Fire an Employee
While there are several reasons to terminate someone's employment, doing so based on mere personal dispositions towards the person is not one of them. It is unethical to fire an employee without a reasonable basis. Safe to say, you must have compelling, verifiable reasons to dismiss an employee. And here are some of those reasons:
Sexual harassment or assault is a criminal offense in almost every civilized country. So, you can fire an employee the authorities have reprimanded for sexual assaults, within or outside the workplace.
2. Physical harassment (or other forms of violence)
It is valid to fire an employee who threatens the stability of your workforce or whose actions negatively affect another's physical and overall well-being.
You can fire an employee when they get into a situation that conflicts with the company's policies, especially a situation without a feasible solution or done repeatedly.
4. Incompetence or poor performance
Poor performance is common in every workplace. However, when it becomes recurrent, or the employee requires constant supervision to complete tasks, then it becomes a valid reason for dismal.
5. Insubordination or defiance
Outrightly disobeying or challenging established authorities and rules is a valid ground to dismiss an employee, especially if your company operates on a hierarchical order.
Paying for extra time off guarantees employees' productivity and health. However, when it becomes frequent and tends towards frivolities, it is time to do the employee a favor—relieve them of their duties!
7. Exposing confidential details
A company or client confidentiality breach is enough to lay off staff. The consequences could be minor if it were a mistake. But when it puts the client and the company at tremendous risk, you can take legal action to terminate the person's employment.
If an employee deliberately takes what does not belong to them within or outside the company, it is stealing—irrespective of the item's size. And when it becomes recurrent, it is a valid ground for dismissal and even legal actions.
Misconduct is an all-in-one phrase that applies to several destructive behaviors, such as bullying, slandering, tardiness, lying, etc. And all these are grounds for dismal.
Know Your Employees' Rights
Part of your responsibility as an employer is to know your employees' rights and avoid violating them. This is necessary while they are with you and when you want to fire them. Whatever your reasons are for firing an employee, knowing their rights and following due procedures will go a long way to save your company from legal issues.
Consider your state laws.
The first thing to consider is your state laws. Workplace laws and exceptions vary across states and countries. Despite the dominance of employment-at–will laws, there are still exceptions. Your right to fire "at will" is becoming more restricted due to the emergence of state and federal laws that favor employees.
An employee who feels unjustly discharged can file multiple employment-related suits against your firm. And that is a journey you wouldn't want to put your company through. So, consider employee-related state laws and exceptions and areas applicable to help avoid any form of legal propaganda that could negatively affect your brand reputation.
Review contracts and handbooks.
The second part of firing an employee goes back to their contract and what your employee handbook says. Employment contracts or employee handbooks describe your engagements with an employee, employee's rights, and other information. They should be staples in your company. Likewise, reviewing these documents as often as possible should be standard practice.
Reviewing these documents keeps you updated on dismissal policies. That way, you can ensure your employment and dismissal policies comply with employment laws. Most importantly, involve an employment lawyer in all your reviews to ensure you receive first-hand legal counsel before drawing the curtains on an employee.
5 Things to NOT do When Firing an Employee
When firing an employee, there is no need for surprises or suspense. Ensure you warn the employee with warning letters or queries to help them anticipate their dismissal. Then, it's less likely they will feel like it is unfounded.
2. Don't neglect the evidence.
Whatever your reason for dismissing an employee, do not neglect the evidence backing the reason - video, text-, or audio evidence. It is also vital to document the evidence for legal purposes and help employees understand why they are being dismissed.
3. Don't fire an employee over the phone.
Dismissing an employee is like halting a part of their career, and that is something you can't do with phone calls or text messages. It isn't good for your employer's brand. To break the news, set up a private meeting with the employee and a few members of the HR department. This will help you have decent conversations where both parties are in sync.
You do not have to ridicule an employee because you are firing them, irrespective of your reasons. You should strive to protect their dignity and be civil with the dismal.
5. Don't drag out the conversation.
Don't drag out the conversation in your private meeting. Be concise, firm, and direct. Refrain from giving room for unnecessary banters that could destroy the intent of the meeting and cause further problems.
When you fire an employee for irrefutable reasons, it only means you want to avoid business disruption. But sometimes, firing an employee means burning a bridge. While that is valid, especially when they commit a criminal offense, you shouldn't mistreat them. You must aim to fire your employees with tact to avoid putting your employer's brand in a bad light. By following the tips outlined above, you can legally dismiss an employee and avoid any form of a legal brawl that could negatively affect your brand's reputation.