Terminate an Employee
You’d be hard pressed to find a small business owner anywhere who says that they enjoy the process of employee termination. Even if the employee who has minutes to realize that today is his/her last today deserves it wholeheartedly, seldom if ever is it enjoyable to follow through with. Like it or not, to terminate an employee means you are significantly changing someone’s life. It shouldn’t be taken lightly.  

To Terminate An Employee Properly Means Covering Your Bases

  There are plenty of good reasons for termination. They get exercised every day. For instance, stealing from your company, whether it’s logging hours worked that were not, to hauling your computers out the front door, all are reasonable and defendable reasons for termination.   You do, of course, need to document those allegations. Just because you feel as though ‘Bob’ is putting hours down that he didn’t actually work for doesn’t mean he is and telling a judge you had a feeling that someone was doing something wrong will not hold up in court should Bob decide to fight his termination.   Once suspicions of impropriety arise, you must document in writing what has occurred. If someone has brought someone’s behavior to your attention, make sure you write down, who it was, why they reported it, when the allegation happened and when it was reported. Keep your records confidential, but note any additional facts you find.   Depending on the circumstances, you may want to go directly to the employee in question and discuss what you’ve learned. An issue with accurate hour keeping can be resolved easily.   Confronting obvious thievery such as theft of company property is another. You need to prove someone stole something. If it is something tangible such as computer equipment or a checkbook, you will need eyewitnesses or video to prove your suspicions are true. Many small business owners in cases like these examples involve the police in addition to termination to recover the stolen property if needed.   For issues that are less alarming, such as decreased productivity or falling through on responsibilities, a process needs to be started. Paper trails need to be made in order to follow through with termination. If your employee is not living up to expectations, an evaluation with the employee to sit down and discuss the issues is needed first. If they have a direct supervisor, invite them to participate and discuss the matter at hand with them first before involving the employee. Keep the discussions on the issues only and why they need addressing.   There are different ways to handle documenting poor performance, companies are wise to come up with a policy for their employee handbook outlining what the process is, both for your employees’ knowledge and your own guidelines on how company discipline is handled prior to there being an issue.  

These Are Not Reasons To Terminate An Employee

  We’ve talked about obvious reasons to fire someone and how to start documenting the behavior of someone who may need to be terminated but there are some reasons that seem like good ones that aren’t. This is not an inclusive list but it sure does sound all-encompassing to us:   You don’t like them -While you may not want to invite this employee out for beers after work (and we don’t recommend singling out employees for nights out after work, ever), just plain not liking them is not a reason for termination.   They live a different lifestyle than you - This may involve sexual orientation, level of socialization, religious preference or none; any of these are not reasons in most states for termination. In fact, terminating for these specific ones are sure to land you in court. While you may not support their off-hours activities, that, for all intents and purposes, is not your business (that is, unless they are soliciting your customers to participate which in that case it is a perfectly good reason in most states).   They are dating a coworker - A dicey situation for sure, but unless it is written in your handbook that dating in the office is prohibited, you are stuck with it. No one appreciates it when employees date, except them (until they break up then everyone hates it).  

Your Employee Handbook Is Your Friend

  If you glean nothing else from this, please know that an employee handbook is your friend and allie in HR issues within your company. You can see from these few examples, there are many ambiguities that can be cleared up if policies are created and put in writing from the outset. This makes the process of hiring and even termination so much easier when everyone has the rules and processes laid out in front of them. Wouldn’t you agree?   Your employee handbook also needs to take in account whatever Federal, state and local laws are in place around employment law and how to handle those issues. The American Disabilities Act is just one that needs to be adhered to that many small business owners may not realize is being violated in their workplace. Not knowing the laws is not an excuse in any court.   If you are overwhelmed with HR and employment law adherence in your small business, a PEO can be the right solution for your needs in terms of HR guidance, employee handbook creation and proper law abiding. A PEO broker, such as PEO Spectrum can help you find out more about PEOs and how they can help your company for no cost at all. What are you waiting for? HR compliance may be a phone call away.

If you’d like to find out more about how PEOs can help you provide great benefits and payroll management at less than you are paying now, contact us today for a free consultation.

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