If you are like most employers, firing an employee is an experience you would like to avoid at all costs. Termination can be challenging not only on a personal level but on a professional level as well. If the proper steps are not taken to justify an employee’s termination, he or she could potentially bring a successful wrongful termination lawsuit against you. As a result of the claim, you may suffer irreparable harm to your business’s reputation and be required to pay expensive damages. The best way to ensure that you are in compliance with federal and state law when firing an employee is to work with an experienced employment law attorney to design effective employee policies and procedures.
Establishing an Official Procedure is Essential
Terminating employees is one of the most difficult aspects of being a small business owner. Even if you did everything in your power to help the employee succeed, sometimes termination is unavoidable. It is crucial that employers use consistent policies and procedures when disciplining or firing employees. Your termination policy should be detailed, in writing, and fully established before you begin the hiring process. It should include the actions that are cause for immediate dismissal as well as the steps that will be taken to help underperforming employees improve the quality of their work. You are also responsible for ensuring that all of your employees are fully aware of how the procedure works.
It is not enough to have an official procedure for disciplining and terminating employees. You must also keep detailed records of the steps you have taken to address the employee’s problems. For example, if an employee is consistently late, it is not enough to simply state this as the reason for dismissal. You should also have records of the instances that the employee was late, when he or she arrived, and how you addressed the problem with the employee. You should document all of the verbal and written warnings given to an employee including the dates and times of these warnings. You should also make sure to document the actions you have taken to help the employee become compliant with employee rules and expectations.
Be Professional and Considerate During the Termination Meeting
Being let go can be a devastating blow to an employee. However, there are several things that you can do to make the termination meeting go as smoothly as possible. Have the meeting face to face and in a private location such as your office. Remain calm, professional, and straightforward. It may also be a good idea to have a witness such as a manager or human resources representative present at the termination meeting. You do not need to drag out the meeting by overly explaining your reasons for firing the employee. If you have already followed the proper procedure for addressing performance issues with the employee and offering ways to help him or her improve, he or she should already be aware of the reasons for the termination.
Contact Our Helpful Team
For help drafting workplace policies, employee handbooks, and business contracts, or to get dependable legal guidance regarding employment disputes, contact The Gierach Law Firm. Call our office today at 630-756-1160 and schedule a confidential consultation with one of our accomplished DuPage County business lawyers to discuss your needs.
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